Satellite Remote Sensing as a Reconnaissance Tool for Assessing Nautical Chart Adequacy and Completeness


National hydrographic offices need a better means of assessing the adequacy of existing nautical charts in order to plan and prioritize future hydrographic surveys. The ability to derive bathymetry from multispectral satellite imagery is a topic that has received considerable attention in scientific literature. However, published studies have not addressed the ability of satellite-derived bathymetry to meet specific hydrographic survey requirements. Specifically, the bathymetry needs to be referenced to a chart datum and statistical uncertainty estimates of the bathymetry should be provided. Ideally, the procedure should be based on readily-available, low-cost software, tools, and data. This paper describes the development and testing of a procedure using publicly-available, multispectral satellite imagery to map and portray shallow-water bathymetry in a GIS environment for three study sites: Northeast United States, Nigeria, and Belize. Landsat imagery and published algorithms were used to derive estimates of the bathymetry in shallow waters, and uncertainty of the satellite-derived bathymetry was then assessed using a Monte Carlo method. Results indicate that the practical procedures developed in this study are suitable for use by national hydrographic offices.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

Marine Geodesy


37, Issue 3




Taylor & Francis

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type

Journal Article