A multi-satellite mapping framework for floating kelp forests




Gendall, Lianna
Schroeder, Sarah B.
Wills, Peter
Hessing-Lewis, Margot
Costa, Maycira

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Remote Sensing


Kelp forests provide key habitat on the Pacific Coast of Canada; however, the long-term changes in their distribution and abundance remain poorly understood. With advances in satellite technology, floating kelp forests can now be monitored across large-scale areas. We present a methodological framework using an object-based image analysis approach that enables the combination of imagery from multiple satellites at different spatial resolutions and temporal coverage, to map kelp forests with floating canopy through time. The framework comprises four steps: (1) compilation and quality assessment; (2) preprocessing; (3) an object-oriented classification; and (4) an accuracy assessment. Additionally, the impact of spatial resolution on the detectability of floating kelp forests is described. Overall, this workflow was successful in producing accurate maps of floating kelp forests, with global accuracy scores of between 88% and 94%. When comparing the impact of resolution on detectability, lower resolutions were less reliable at detecting small kelp forests in high slope areas. Based on the analysis, we suggest removing high slope areas (11.4%) from time series analyses using high- to medium-resolution satellite imagery and that error, in this case up to 7%, be considered when comparing imagery at different resolutions in low–mid slope areas through time.



kelp forests, multispectral, satellite, time series, spatial resolution, object-based image analysis, remote sensing


Gendall, L., Schroeder, S. B., Wills, P., Hessing-Lewis, M., & Costa, M. (2023). A multi-satellite mapping framework for floating kelp forests. Remote Sensing, 15(5), 1276. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs15051276