The study of surface water velocity fields through in situ sampling is intrinsically difficult because they are highly variable in time and space. With airborne remote sensing, however, it is possible to determine changes in velocity fields because spatially and temporally comprehensive data may be obtained. This letter shows how changes in the statistical properties of successive remotely sensed images may be used to estimate velocity vectors associated with chlorophyll-a and sea surface temperature (SST). The study area is Kirkcudbright Bay, a small estuary in south-west Scotland. Multi-temporal imagery of the study area were acquired by the NERC Daedalus ADDS-1268 Airborne ThematicMapper (ATM) and processed to show chlorophyll and thermal indices as substitutes for chlorophyll- a and SST. Velocity fields were estimated by the Maximum Cross Correlation technique. Complex patterns were found, confirming that the comprehensive coverage provided by airborne remote sensing is required for their analysis. The chlorophyll-a velocity field delivered from the SST velocity field, suggesting that these fields are relevant to the water quality variable in question, and not necessarily the water body itself.
The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, International Journal of Remote Sensing, 22 (18), 2001, © Informa Plc