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Water is the basis of all life on this planet. Yet, approximately one in seven people in the world do not have access to safe water. Water can become unsafe due to contamination by various organic and inorganic compounds due to various natural and anthropogenic processes. Identifying and monitoring water quality changes in space and time remains a challenge, especially when contamination events occur over large geographic areas. This study investigates recent advances in remote sensing that allow us to detect and monitor the unique spectral characteristics of water quality events over large areas. Based on an extensive literature review, we focus on three critical water quality problems as part of this study: algal blooms, acid mine drainage, and suspended solids. We review the advances made in applications of remote sensing in each of these issues, identify the knowledge gaps and limitations of current studies, analyze the existing approaches in the context of global environmental changes, and discuss potential ways to combine multi-sensor methods and different wavelengths to develop improved approaches. Synthesizing the findings of these studies in the context of the three specific tracks will help stakeholders to utilize, share, and embed satellite-derived earth observations for monitoring and tracking the ever-evolving water quality in the earth’s limited freshwater reserves.

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Cameron Murray Albert Larson, Joseph Goodwill and Ali S. Akanda are affiliated with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Yeqiao Wang is affiliated with the Department of Natural Resource Science.

Dawn Cardace is affiliated with the Department of Geosciences.