Towards deeper measurements of tropical reefscape structure using the WorldView-2 spaceborne sensor.
Owing to the shallowness of waters, vast areas, and spatial complexity, reefscape mapping requires Digital Depth Models (DDM) at a fine scale but over large areas. Outperforming waterborne surveys limited by shallow water depths and costly airborne campaigns, recently launched satellite sensors, endowed with high spectral and very high spatial capabilities, can adequately address the raised issues. Doubling the number of spectral bands, the innovative eight band WorldView-2 (WV2) imagery is very susceptible to enhance the DDM retrieved from the traditional four band QuickBird-2 (QB2). Based on an efficiently recognized algorithm (ratio transform), resolving for the clear water bathymetry, we compared DDM derived from simulated QB2 with WV2 spectral combinations using acoustic ground-truthing in Moorea (French Polynesia). Three outcomes emerged from this study. Increasing spatial resolution from 2 to 0.5 m led to reduced agreement between modeled and in situ water depths. The analytical atmospheric correction (FLAASH) provided poorer results than those derived without atmospheric correction and empirical dark object correction. The purple, green, yellow and NIR3 (WV2 1st-3rd-4th-8th bands) spectral combination, processed with the atmospheric correction at the 2 m resolution, furnished the most robust consistency with ground-truthing (30 m (r = 0.65)), gaining 10 m of penetration relative to other spaceborne-derived bathymetric retrievals. The integration of the WV2-boosted bathymetry estimation into radiative transfer model holds great promise to frequently monitor the reefscape features at the colony-scale level.