Adaptive bathymetry estimation for shallow coastal waters using Planet Dove satellites

Jiwei Li, David E. Knapp, Steven R. Schill, Chris Roelfsema, Stuart Phinn, Miles Silman, Joseph Mascaro, Gregory P. Asner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Accurate bathymetric mapping of shallow waters (above 15 m) is essential for a wide range of scientific research, government, transport, and industry globally. Satellite-based bathymetry estimation approaches offer an alternative to traditional shipborne measurements, especially given advancements in their spatial and temporal resolution of satellite imagery, including the new Planet Dove constellation of >150 satellites providing daily coastal coverage. Dove satellites provide abundant cloud-free images even over cloudy tropical coastal environment, offering an opportunity to generate frequent bathymetry maps at high spatial resolution (4 m). We developed a new adaptive bathymetry estimation algorithm for Planet Dove and similar satellites. The algorithm adaptively tunes a depth estimator according to water column attenuation conditions. The algorithm was tested at five diverse reef sites globally (Lighthouse Reef, Belize; Saona Island, Dominican Republic; St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands; Heron Island, Australia; Hawaii Island, U.S.) using 31 satellite images from six Dove satellites. Derived water depth was validated (RMSE = 1.22 to 1.86 m) with field-measured sampling points (61,025) ranging in depth from 1 to 15 m. Algorithm performance was best at depths of 4–10 m. This new adaptive algorithm can be effectively applied to derive high spatial resolution bathymetric maps from Planet Dove satellite imagery across a wide range of conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number111302
JournalRemote Sensing of Environment
StatePublished - Oct 2019


  • Bathymetry
  • Benthic
  • Coastal region
  • Coral reef
  • Planet Dove
  • Seagrass
  • Shallow water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Geology
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Adaptive bathymetry estimation for shallow coastal waters using Planet Dove satellites'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this