Document Type


Publication Date




Publication Title

Remote Sensing of Environment






Satellite remote sensing offers an effective remedy to challenges in ground-based and aerial mapping that have previously impeded quantitative assessments of global seagrass extent. Commercial satellite platforms offer fine spatial resolution, an important consideration in patchy seagrass ecosystems. Currently, no consistent protocol exists for image processing of commercial data, limiting reproducibility and comparison across space and time. Additionally, the radiometric performance of commercial satellite sensors has not been assessed against the dark and variable targets characteristic of coastal waters. This study compared data products derived from two commercial satellites: DigitalGlobe's WorldView-2 and Planet's RapidEye. A single scene from each platform was obtained at St. Joseph Bay in Florida, USA, corresponding to a November 2010 field campaign. A reproducible processing regime was developed to transform imagery from basic products, as delivered from each company, into analysis-ready data usable for various scientific applications. Satellite-derived surface reflectances were compared against field measurements. WorldView-2 imagery exhibited high disagreement in the coastal blue and blue spectral bands, chronically overpredicting. RapidEye exhibited better agreement than WorldView-2, but overpredicted slightly across all spectral bands. A deep convolutional neural network was used to classify imagery into deep water, land, submerged sand, seagrass, and intertidal classes. Classification results were compared to seagrass maps derived from photointerpreted aerial imagery. This study offers the first radiometric assessment of WorldView-2 and RapidEye over a coastal system, revealing inherent calibration issues in shorter wavelengths of WorldView-2. Both platforms demonstrated as much as 97% agreement with aerial estimates, despite differing resolutions. Thus, calibration issues in WorldView-2 did not appear to interfere with classification accuracy, but could be problematic if estimating biomass. The image processing routine developed here offers a reproducible workflow for WorldView-2 and RapidEye imagery, which was tested in two additional coastal systems. This approach may become platform independent as more sensors become available.


© 2020 The Authors.

This is an open access article under the Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) license.

Original Publication Citation

Coffer, M. M., Schaeffer, B. A., Zimmerman, R. C., Hill, V., Li, J., Islam, K. A., & Whitman, P. J. (2020). Performance across WorldView-2 and RapidEye for reproducible seagrass mapping. Remote Sensing of Environment, 250, 1-14, Article 112036.


0000-0002-9399-4264 (Zimmerman)


Article Location