Ocean water quality monitoring using remote sensing techniques: A review

Mar Environ Res. 2022 Sep;180:105701. doi: 10.1016/j.marenvres.2022.105701. Epub 2022 Aug 2.


Ocean Water Quality (OWQ) monitoring provides insights into the quality of water in marine and near-shore environments. OWQ measurements can contain the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of oceanic waters, where low OWQ values indicate an unhealthy ecosystem. Many parameters of water can be estimated from Remote Sensing (RS) data. Thus, RS offers significant opportunities for monitoring water quality in estuaries, coastal waterways, and the ocean. This paper reviews various RS systems and techniques for OWQ monitoring. It first introduces the common OWQ parameters, followed by the definition of the parameters and techniques of OWQ monitoring with RS techniques. In this study, the following OWQ parameters were reviewed: chlorophyll-a, colored dissolved organic matter, turbidity or total suspended matter/solid, dissolved organic carbon, Secchi disk depth, suspended sediment concentration, and sea surface temperature. This study presents a systematic analysis of the capabilities and types of spaceborne systems (e.g., optical and thermal sensors, passive microwave radiometers, active microwave scatterometers, and altimeters) which are commonly applied to OWQ assessment. The paper also provides a summary of the opportunities and limitations of RS data for spatial and temporal estimation of OWQ. Overall, it was observed that chlorophyll-a and colored dissolved organic matter are the dominant parameters applied to OWQ monitoring. It was also concluded that the data from optical and passive microwave sensors could effectively be applied to estimate OWQ parameters. From a methodological perspective, semi-empirical algorithms generally outperform the other empirical, analytical, and semi-analytical methods for OWQ monitoring.

Keywords: Oceans; Remote sensing; Water quality.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chlorophyll / analysis
  • Chlorophyll A / analysis
  • Ecosystem
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Oceans and Seas
  • Remote Sensing Technology*
  • Water Quality*


  • Chlorophyll
  • Chlorophyll A