Advances in sensor design and data analysis techniques are making remote sensing systems practical and attractive for use in research and management of coastal ecosystems, such as wetlands, estuaries, and coral reefs. Multispectral and hyperspectral imagers are available for mapping coastal land cover, concentrations of organic/inorganic suspended particles, and dissolved substances in coastal waters. Thermal infrared scanners can map sea surface temperatures accurately and chart coastal currents, while microwave radiometers can measure ocean salinity, soil moisture, and other hydrologic parameters. Radar imagers, scatterometers, and altimeters provide information on ocean waves, ocean winds, sea surface height, and coastal currents, which strongly influence coastal ecosystems. Using airborne light detecting and ranging systems, one can produce bathymetric maps, even in moderately turbid coastal waters. Since coastal ecosystems have high spatial complexity and temporal variability, they frequently have to be observed from both satellite and aircraft in order to obtain the required spatial, spectral, and temporal resolutions. A reliable field data collection approach using ships, buoys, and field instruments with a valid sampling scheme is required to calibrate and validate the remotely sensed information. The objective of this paper is to present an overview of practical remote sensing techniques that can be used in studies of coastal ecosystems.
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Vol. 27 • No. 1