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Taking NASA-USGS’s Landsat 8 to the Beach (Original Article)
Remote Sensing

Some things go swimmingly with a summer trip to the beach – sunscreen, mystery novels, cold beverages and sandcastles. Other things – like aquatic algae – are best avoided. 

Jul. 2, 2014
Kate Ramsayer

The Landsat 8 satellite is helping researchers spot these organisms from space, gathering information that could direct beachgoers away from contaminated bays and beaches. With improved sensors and technology on the latest Landsat satellite, researchers can now distinguish slight variations in the color of coastal water due to algae or sediments to identify potential problem areas.

“We can sample everything in the blink of an eye and can say right here your yellow organic [contaminants] are looking high,” said John Schott, a researcher at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. “We could use that to guide water managers’ sampling, and say we think there’s likely a problem along this stretch of beach.”

Landsat 8 image of Lake Ontario

With Landsat 8's improved ability to detect variations in colors, the waters of Lake Ontario can show sediment patterns as well as potentially problematic algae, indicated by higher chlorophyll concentrations.

Image Credit: NASA/USGS

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Original Source: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland