Map of April and May frontal zones in the Strait of Georgia derived from MERIS.

West Coast Oceanography

Scientists at ASL and Borstad Associates have been involved in satellite oceanography and high-resolution spectroscopy since 1983. Over the years, our scientists have developed methods to derive remote sensing estimates of:

  • chlorophyll concentration in turbid coastal and inland waters
  • solar stimulated chlorophyll fluorescence
  • sediment concentration
  • dissolved organic matter
  • oceanographic fronts

JGR article by ASL scientists (2015)

back to top

Chilko Lake chlorophyll product visualized on the LakeView geoportal.

LakeView: Satellite-based Study of Water Quality of Chilko Lake, BC

 Chilko Lake sockeye constitute one of the most important salmon stocks on the west coast, for which Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has maintained a 55-year record of marine and freshwater survival.

The objective of the LakeView project was to develop a validated, satellite-based time series of water properties for this remote lake, including chlorophyll, temperature and turbidity.  These quality-controlled time series could be used to better understand lake dynamics and factors controlling the freshwater survival of  the sockeye population. The project team led by ASL also included scientists from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the University of Victoria, and C-CORE. Funding for the project was provided by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).  Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing (2019).

Project services included:

  • Field data collection including water sampling and optical measurements
  • Generation, validation and quality control of chlorophyll, turbidity, dissolved organic matter, and temperature time series from MERIS and Landsat
  • Time series analysis of sockeye growth and survival in relation to lake properties
  • Lake ice and glacier mapping with Landsat and Radarsat
  • Setup of a web-based geoportal for user access to data products 

back to top

MERIS false colour image and oil classification.

Semi-Automated Classification of Oil slicks at sea using RADAR and Optical imagery (SACORO)

ASL Environmental Sciences, with partners MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA), and C-CORE, and in cooperation with the Canadian Ice Service (CIS) , developed new interpretive products using RADARSAT-2 and MERIS satellite data for the classification of oil slicks at sea.

Canada has been operationally monitoring its marine coastal areas for oil pollution using RADARSAT-1 data since 2006. The SACORO project investigated the improvements that the more technically advanced RADARSAT-2 can bring to the Integrated Satellite Tracking of Pollution (ISTOP), especially when linked to optical Earth Observation imagery to reduce false positives caused by marine algae. Using up-to-date machine vision techniques, we developed automated procedures to reduce manpower requirements and speed up the detection of oil slicks and thickness characterization at sea.

SACORO used archived multi-polarization RADARSAT-2, RADARSAT-1 and MERIS optical satellite data acquired over oil slicks during Deep Water Horizon oil spill in the the Gulf of Mexico . Results demonstrated the effectiveness of using remotely-sensed data and semi-automated, multivariate classification methods for the detection oil slicks and characterization of their thickness. The techniques developed here will prove useful to CIS and the Canadian Space Agency. 

Project services included:

  • Analysis of MERIS optical satellite imagery to map oil slick extent and thickness
  • Interpretation of MERIS imagery to flag oil spill ‘lookalikes’ due to biogenic surfactants

back to top


For more information about our remote sensing capabilities, click here

ASL Environmental Sciences #1-6703 Rajpur Place V8M 1Z5 Saanichton, BC

Phone: +1 250-656-0177
Email: [email protected]