Skip Navigation

Water Quality


The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) need to determine the condition and monitor the changing quality of Nebraska's 2500+ lakes and ponds.

CALMIT is pioneering new and improved techniques for using aerial and satellite remote sensing to accomplish these tasks. The research aims to provide lower-cost methods to assess suspended sediment, chlorophyll and a variety of other pigments that are diagnostic of water condition.

Lake Management

Remote Sensing for Lake Monitoring


CALMIT is working with the North American Lake Management Society (NALMS) and the Universities of Minnesota and Wisconsin on a project aimed at conducting a retrospective assessment of several different remote sensing platforms, with an emphasis on those remote sensing methods (e.g., airborne, Landsat, MODIS and MERIS) that most likely can be used for monitoring lakes routinely and operationally over a regional spatial extent. This work is being conducted for various lakes across the Upper Midwest (EPA Region 5) states. In addition in situ comparisons of the various platforms on one or more lakes with simultaneously collected water quality data is being done. The CALMIT field crew worked on Lake Minnetonka, in Minneapolis, during the week of August 22, 2005, and the CALMIT air crew collected AISA Eagle hyperspectral imagery during the same week. Products anticipated from this project are: a) A guidance document developed on effectiveness and use of remote sensing for lake assessment; b) A prototype water clarity assessment created for each participating state. c) A protocol using MERIS and MODIS developed for large lakes; d) Training on the application of these technologies; and e) A dedicated issue of LakeLine Magazine, which will provide a user-friendly format for sharing results from the project with other states, lake managers and others who may be interested in using remote sensing to assess lake or watershed characteristics.

Contact: Anatoly Gitelson (, Don Rundquist (

Coral Reefs

Remote Sensing of Western-Caribbean Coral Communities

The UNL work involving remote sensing of coral communities was begun in 1996 by Don Rundquist and Anatoly Gitelson, along with CALMIT Faculty Fellow John Schalles (Creighton University), when the group collected reflectance spectra for selected coral features in the Northern Gulf of Aqaba (Near Eilat, Israel).

In 1997, the group returned to the Gulf of Aqaba and collected additional spectra. Subsequently, along with CALMIT Faculty Fellow Merlin Lawson, the group has collected coral spectra in-situ at Roatan Island, Honduras each spring semester during 2000-2005. Through the intervening years, CALMIT staff and students have worked to standardize the data collection protocol for measuring the spectral response of coral species. We consider the adoption of a dual-fiber-optic spectrometer to be advantageous in developing replicated 'spectral libraries' under diverse environmental conditions. In 2000, Sunil Narumalani, along with his student Jill Maeder, began investigating IKONOS images of Roatan in an effort to classify the benthic features of the Roatan coastal zone. In April 2005, CALMIT scientists deployed our Piper Saratoga to Roatan, Honduras, to conduct low altitude aerial remote sensing of spectra data over the coral reefs. Our platform utilizes the AISA-Eagle (AE) Hyperspectral Imager (VNIR) with 512 programmable spectral channels at a spatial resolution of 1 and 2 meters.

A second, continuing thrust of CALMIT's research in the Caribbean has been the identification and mapping of benthic habitats, using IKONOS and QuickBird imagery. Associated with this effort is the work of Professor Narumalani and his doctoral student Deepak Mishra, who have characterized the vertical diffuse attenuation coefficient for downwelling irradiance in coastal waters and high resolution ocean color remote sensing of benthic habitats (see Fact Sheet).

Contacts: Don Rundquist (, Sunil Narumalani(, Merlin Lawson(

Invasive Species

Noxious Weeds Inventory and Mapping at Capulin Volcano National Monument

The National Park Service, USDA and a number of individual investigators are attempting to identify and delineate areas of noxious weeds and invasive species. Infestations of Purple Loosestrife and Salt Cedar in the areas of Capulin Volcano National Monument, Fort Union National Monument, New Mexico, a portion of Lake Meredith National Recreation Area, Texas, the Platte river valley in Nebraska, the Rio Grande Valley in southwestern Texas, Lewis & Clark Lake and the Niobrara River in northeastern Nebraska, and Lake Sakajawea in North Dakota have been targets for AISA Eagle Acquisitions. CALMIT will use satellite imagery, hyperspectral aerial imagery, and GPS technology to aid in inventory surveys and mapping of these areas. The researchers are using this information to assess the effectiveness of ongoing weed management actions and to complete NEPA compliance for the weed management program.

Contact: Sunil Narumalani (

Plant Disease

Wheat Streak Mosaic (WSM)

Wheat Streak Mosaic
Wheat Streak Mosaic

Wheat streak mosaic (WSM) is the most severe disease of winter wheat in the Great Plains. Estimates indicate WSM causes an average loss to winter wheat of ca. 2% ($6 million, Nebraska; $18 million, Kansas). This mite-vectored virus is a problem in the year following pre-harvest hail damage because resulting volunteer wheat is the primary source of the mite/virus. Understanding mite movement (i.e. virus spread) is critical to predicting the epidemiology of WSM and developing efficient pest management programs. Airborne and satellite remote sensing systems are being used to investigate and improve our approach to managing this complex problem.

The ultimate goal of this work is to establish WSM risk prediction tools based on pre-harvest hail damage and on virus spread via movement of wheat curl mites.

Contact: Don Rundquist (