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Removing sun glint from optical remote sensing images of shallow rivers

November 15, 2016

Sun glint is the specular reflection of light from the water surface, which often causes unusually bright pixel values that can dominate fluvial remote sensing imagery and obscure the water-leaving radiance signal of interest for mapping bathymetry, bottom type, or water column optical characteristics. Although sun glint is ubiquitous in fluvial remote sensing imagery, river-specific methods for removing sun glint are not yet available. We show that existing sun glint-removal methods developed for multispectral images of marine shallow water environments over-correct shallow portions of fluvial remote sensing imagery resulting in regions of unreliable data along channel margins. We build on existing marine glint-removal methods to develop a river-specific technique that removes sun glint from shallow areas of the channel without overcorrection by accounting for non-negligible water-leaving near-infrared radiance. This new sun glint-removal method can improve the accuracy of spectrally-based depth retrieval in cases where sun glint dominates the at-sensor radiance. For an example image of the gravel-bed Snake River, Wyoming, USA, observed-vs.-predicted R2 values for depth retrieval improved from 0.66 to 0.76 following sun glint removal. The methodology presented here is straightforward to implement and could be incorporated into image processing workflows for multispectral images that include a near-infrared band.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2017
Title Removing sun glint from optical remote sensing images of shallow rivers
DOI 10.1002/esp.4063
Authors Brandon T. Overstreet, Carl J. Legleiter
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Earth Surface Processes and Landforms
Index ID 70178324
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Research Program - Central Branch