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We describe the application of a Neural Network (NN) previously developed by us, to the detection and tracking, of Karenia brevis Harmful Algal Blooms (KB HABs) that plague the coasts of the West Florida Shelf (WFS) using Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) satellite observations. Previous approaches for the detection of KB HABs in the WFS primarily used observations from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer Aqua (MODIS-A) satellite. They depended on the remote sensing reflectance signal at the 678 nm chlorophyll fluorescence band (Rrs678) needed for both the normalized fluorescence height (nFLH) and Red Band Difference algorithms (RBD) currently used. VIIRS which has replaced MODIS-A, unfortunately does not have a 678 nm fluorescence channel so we customized the NN approach to retrieve phytoplankton absorption at 443 nm (aph443) using only Rrs measurements from existing VIIRS channels at 486, 551 and 671 nm. The aph443 values in these retrieved VIIRS images, can in turn be correlated to chlorophyll-a concentrations [Chla] and KB cell counts. To retrieve KB values, the VIIRS NN retrieved aph443 images are filtered by applying limiting constraints, defined by (i) low backscatter at Rrs 551 nm and (ii) a minimum aph443 value known to be associated with KB HABs in the WFS. The resulting filtered residual images, are then used to delineate and quantify the existing KB HABs. Comparisons with KB HABs satellite retrievals obtained using other techniques, including nFLH, as well as with in situ measurements reported over a four year period, confirm the viability of the NN technique, when combined with the filtering constraints devised, for effective detection of KB HABs.


This article originally appeared in Remote Sensing, available at DOI: 10.3390/rs8050377

© 2016 by the authors. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (



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