Increase in nitrogen concentration and declining eelgrass beds in Great Bay Estuary have been observed in the last decades. These two parameters are clear indicators of the impending problems for NH’s estuaries. The NH Department of Environmental Services (DES) in collaboration with the New Hampshire Estuaries Project (NHEP) adopted the assumption that eelgrass survival can be used as the water quality target for nutrient criteria development for NH’s estuaries. One of the hypotheses put forward regarding eelgrass decline is that a possible eutrophication response to nutrient increases in the Great Bay Estuary has been the proliferation of nuisance macroalgae, which has reduced eelgrass area in Great Bay Estuary. To test this hypothesis, mapping of eelgrass and nuisance macroalgae beds using hyperspectral imagery was suggested. A hyperspectral imagery was conducted by SpecTIR in August 2007 using an AISA Eagle sensor. The collected dataset was used to map eelgrass and nuisance macroalgae throughout the Great Bay Estuary. This report outlines the configured procedure for mapping the macroalgae and eelgrass beds using hyperspectral imagery. No ground truth measurements of eelgrass or macroalgae were collected as part of this project, although eelgrass ground truth data was collected as part of a separate project. Guidance from eelgrass and macroalgae experts was used for identifying training sets and evaluating the classification results. The results produced a comprehensive eelgrass and macroalgae map of the estuary. Three recommendations are suggested following the experience gained in this study: conducting ground truth measurements at the time of the HS survey, acquiring the current DEM model of Great Bay Estuary, and examining additional HS datasets with expert eelgrass and macroalgae guidance. These three issues can improve the classification results and allow more advanced applications, such as identification of macroalgae types.
Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership, Durham, NH
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