Exploiting high frequency monitoring and satellite imagery for assessing chlorophyll-a dynamics in a shallow eutrophic lake



  • Monica Pinardi Institute for Electromagnetic Sensing of the Environment, National Research Council of Italy, Milan, Italy. https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5289-8842
  • Gary Free Institute for Electromagnetic Sensing of the Environment, National Research Council of Italy, Milan, Italy. https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9664-4676
  • Beatrice Lotto Department of Chemistry, Life Sciences and Environmental Sustainability, University of Parma, Italy. https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3582-5024
  • Nicola Ghirardi Institute for Electromagnetic Sensing of the Environment, National Research Council of Italy, Milan; Department of Chemistry, Life Sciences and Environmental Sustainability, University of Parma, Italy. https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5006-9853
  • Marco Bartoli Department of Chemistry, Life Sciences and Environmental Sustainability, University of Parma, Italy. https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5022-6206
  • Mariano Bresciani | bresciani.m@irea.cnr.it Institute for Electromagnetic Sensing of the Environment, National Research Council of Italy, Milan, Italy. https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7185-8464


Freshwater ecosystems are challenged by cultural eutrophication across the globe, and it is a priority for water managers to implement water quality monitoring at different spatio-temporal scales to control and mitigate the eutrophication process. Phytoplankton abundance is a key indicator of the trophic and water quality status of lakes. Phytoplankton dynamics are characterized by high spatio-temporal variation, driven by physical, chemical and biological factors, that challenge the capacity of routine monitoring with conventional sampling techniques (i.e., boat based sampling) to characterise these complex relationships. In this study, high frequency in situ measurements and multispectral satellite data were used in a synergistic way to explore temporal (diurnal and seasonal) dynamics and spatial distribution of Chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) concentration, a proxy of phytoplankton abundance, together with physico-chemical water parameters in a shallow fluvial-lake system (Mantua Lakes). A good agreement was found between Chl-a retrieved by remote sensing data and Chl-a fluorescence data recorded by multi-parameters probes (R2 = 0.94). The Chl-a maps allowed a seasonal classification of the Mantua Lakes system as eutrophic or hypertrophic. Along the Mantua lakes system an increasing gradient in Chl-a concentration was recorded following the transition from a fluvial to lacustrine system. There was significant seasonal heterogeneity among the sub-basins, probably due to different hydrodynamics, influenced also by macrophyte stands. High-frequency data revealed the importance of rainfall events in the timing and growth dynamics of phytoplankton, particularly for spring and late summer blooms. Combining temporal and spatial data at high resolution improves the understanding of complex fluvial-lake systems. This technique can allow managers to target blooms in near-real time as they move through a system and guide them to localized hot spots enabling timely management action in ecosystems of high conservation and recreational value.



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80 Years of the Journal of Limnology
remote sensing, Earth Observation, monitoring, lakes, Chl-a fluorescence, Sentinel-2
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Pinardi M, Free G, Lotto B, Ghirardi N, Bartoli M, Bresciani M. Exploiting high frequency monitoring and satellite imagery for assessing chlorophyll-a dynamics in a shallow eutrophic lake. J Limnol [Internet]. 2021 Jul. 13 [cited 2021 Jul. 28];. Available from: https://jlimnol.it/index.php/jlimnol/article/view/2033

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