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International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health


Lake Champlain has bays undergoing chronic cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms that pose a public health threat. Monitoring and assessment tools need to be developed to support risk decision making and to gain a thorough understanding of bloom scales and intensities. In this research application, Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager (OLI), Rapid Eye, and Proba Compact High Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (CHRIS) images were obtained while a corresponding field campaign collected in situ measurements of water quality. Models including empirical band ratio regressions were applied to map chlorophylla and phycocyanin concentrations; all sensors performed well with R² and root-mean-square error (RMSE) ranging from 0.76 to 0.88 and 0.42 to 1.51, respectively. The outcomes showed spatial patterns across the lake with problematic bays having phycocyanin concentrations >25 μg/L. An alert status metric tuned to the current monitoring protocol was generated using modeled water quality to illustrate how the remote sensing tools can inform a public health monitoring system. Among the sensors utilized in this study, Landsat 8 OLI holds the most promise for providing exposure information across a wide area given the resolutions, systematic observation strategy and free cost.