Estimation of surface chlorophyll on an exposed mudflat using digital colour-infrared (CIR) photography
The usefulness of field-based digital Colour-InfraRed (CIR) photography to quantify concentrations of chlorophyll on the surface of exposed mudflats is investigated. Multiple images, each 626 mm by 467 mm, were acquired during Austral summertime using a Duncantech three-band CIR camera from two areas of mudflat in the upper reaches of Sydney Harbour. Sediment samples were obtained from within the field of view of the camera and their chlorophyll concentration was estimated spectrophotometrically. After the camera images were normalised to compensate for the effects of variations in the intensity of downwelling solar radiation, chlorophyll was estimated for each 0.9 mm square pixel using a suite of five different vegetation indices. Regression analysis was used to determine the strength of the relationship between the index values and the estimates of chlorophyll from the in situ samples. Indices constructed from near-infrared and red bands were found to have the strongest relationships with in situ chlorophyll estimates ( R2 ranging from 0.28 to 0.79) and indices derived from near-infrared and green bands the weakest ( R2 ranging from 0.16 to 0.22). The vegetation indices highlighted complex small-scale variability in chlorophyll distribution that was not evident in the original camera images. These findings indicate that field-based CIR photography will provide a useful tool for the non-destructive determination of benthic chlorophyll.