Citation Palmer S, Kutser T & Hunter P (2015) Remote sensing of inland waters: challenges, progress and future directions. Remote Sensing of Environment, 157, pp. 1-8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2014.09.021
Abstract Monitoring and understanding the physical, chemical and biological status of global inland waters are immensely important to scientists and policy makers alike. Whereas conventional monitoring approaches tend to be limited in terms of spatial coverage and temporal frequency, remote sensing has the potential to provide an invaluable complementary source of data at local to global scales. Furthermore, as sensors, methodologies, data availability and the network of researchers and engaged stakeholders in this field develop, increasingly widespread use of remote sensing for operational monitoring of inland waters can be envisaged. This special issue on Remote Sensing of Inland Waters comprises 16 articles on freshwater ecosystems around the world ranging from lakes and reservoirs to river systems using optical data from a range of in situ instruments as well as airborne and satellite platforms. The papers variably focus on the retrieval of in-water optical and biogeochemical parameters as well as information on the biophysical properties of shoreline and benthic vegetation. Methodological advances include refined approaches to adjacency correction, inversion-based retrieval models and in situ inherent optical property measurements in highly turbid waters. Remote sensing data are used to evaluate models and theories of environmental drivers of change in a number of different aquatic ecosystems. The range of contributions to the special issue highlights not only the sophistication of methods and the diversity of applications currently being developed, but also the growing international community active in this field. In this introductory paper we briefly highlight the progress that the community has made over recent decades as well as the challenges that remain. It is argued that the operational use of remote sensing for inland water monitoring is a realistic ambition if we can continue to build on these recent achievements.