Optical remote sensing (Sentinel-3 OLCI) used to monitor dissolved organic carbon in the Lena River, Russia

bennet.juhls [ at ] awi.de


In the past decades the Arctic has experienced stronger temperature increases than any other region globally. Shifts in hydrological regimes and accelerated permafrost thawing have been observed and are likely to increase mobilization of organic carbon and its transport through rivers into the Arctic Ocean. In order to better quantify changes to the carbon cycle, Arctic rivers such as the Lena River in Siberia need to be monitored closely. Since 2018, a sampling program provides frequent in situ observations of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM) of the Lena River. Here, we utilize this ground truth dataset and aim to test the potential of frequent satellite observations to spatially and temporally complement and expand these observations. We explored all available overpasses (~3250) of the Ocean and Land Colour Instrument (OLCI) on Sentinel-3 within the ice-free periods (May – October) for four years (2018 to 2021) to develop a new retrieval scheme to derive concentrations of DOC. OLCI observations with a spatial resolution of ~300 m were corrected for atmospheric effects using the Polymer algorithm. The results of this study show that using this new retrieval, remotely sensed DOC concentrations agree well with in situ DOC concentrations (MAPD=10.89%, RMSE=1.55 mg L−1, r²=0.92, n=489). The high revisit frequency and wide swath of OLCI allow it to capture the entire range of DOC concentrations and their seasonal variability. Estimated satellite-derived DOC export fluxes integrated over the ice-free periods of 2018 to 2021 show a high interannual variability and agree well with flux estimates from in situ data (RMSD=0.186 Tg C, MAPD=4.05%). In addition, 10-day OLCI composites covering the entire Lena River catchment revealed increasing DOC concentration and local sources of DOC along the Lena from south to north. We conclude that moderate resolution satellite imagers such as OLCI are very capable of observing DOC concentrations in large/wide rivers such as the Lena River despite the relatively coarse spatial resolution. The global coverage of remote sensing offers the expansion to more rivers in order to improve our understanding of the land-ocean carbon fluxes in a changing climate.

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Primary Division
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Research Networks
Publication Status
Eprint ID
DOI 10.3389/fmars.2023.1082109

Cite as
El Kassar, J. , Juhls, B. , Hieronymi, M. , Preusker, R. , Morgenstern, A. , Fischer, J. and Overduin, P. P. (2023): Optical remote sensing (Sentinel-3 OLCI) used to monitor dissolved organic carbon in the Lena River, Russia , Frontiers in Marine Science, 10 , p. 1082109 . doi: 10.3389/fmars.2023.1082109

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Research Platforms

Arctic Land Expeditions > RU-Land_2018_Lena
Arctic Land Expeditions > RU-Land_2019_Lena
Arctic Land Expeditions > RU-Land_2020_Lena
Arctic Land Expeditions > RU-Land_2021_Lena

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