A Multiscale Surface Water Temperature Data Acquisition Platform: Tests on Lake Geneva, Switzerland
An improved understanding of surface transport processes is necessary to predict sediment, pollutant and phytoplankton patterns in large lakes. Lake surface water temperature (LSWT) which may spatially and temporarily vary over the lake surface reflects meteorological and climatological forcing more than any other physical lake parameter. There are different data sources for LSWT mapping, including remote sensing and in situ measurements. The available satellite data might be suitable for detecting the large-scale thermal patterns, but not the meso- or small scale processes. Lake surface thermography, investigated in this study, has finer resolution compared to satellite images. Thermography at the meso-scale provides the ability to ground-truth satellite imagery over scales of one to several satellite image pixels. On the other hand, thermography data can be used as a control in schemes to upscale local measurements that account for the surface energy fluxes and vertical energy budget. Independently, since such data can be collected at high frequency, they can be also useful in capturing the surface signatures of meso-scale eddies and thus to quantify mixing processes. In the present study, we report results from a Balloon Launched Imaging and Monitoring Platform (BLIMP), which was developed in order to measure the LSWT at meso-scale. The BLIMP consists of a small balloon which is tethered to a boat and equipped with the thermal and RGB cameras, as well as other instrumentation for location and communication. Several deployments were carried out on Lake Geneva. In a typical deployment, the BLIMP is towed by a boat, and collects high frequency data from different heights (i.e., spatial resolutions) and locations. Simultaneous ground-truthing of the BLIMP data is achieved using an autonomous craft that collects a variety of data, including in situ surface/near surface temperatures, radiation and meteorological data in the area covered by the BLIMP images. With suitable scaling, our results show good consistency between in situ, BLIMP and concurrent satellite data. In addition, the BLIMP thermography reveals (hydrodynamically-driven) structures in the LSWT – an obvious example being mixing of river discharges.