This study applied remote sensing techniques to the study of water color in Himalayan glacial lakes as a proxy of suspended solid load. In situ measurements gathered in 5 lakes in October 2014 during satellite data acquisition enabled the characterization of water reflectance and clarity and supported image processing. Field data analysis led to a distinction between 3 water colors and a consequent lake water color classification on a regional scale from Landsat-8 data previously corrected for atmospheric and adjacency effects. Several morphometric parameters (lake size and shape, distance between lake and glacier) were also computed for the lakes thus classified. The results showed spatial and temporal variations in lake water color, suggestive of relationships between glacier shrinkage and the presence of brighter and more turbid water. A finer-scale analysis of the spatial variability of water reflectance on Chola Lake (based on GeoEye-1 data captured on 18 October 2014) showed the contribution of water component absorption from the inflow. Overall, the findings support further research to monitor Himalayan lakes using both Landsat-8 and Sentinel-2 (with its improved resolutions).
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