Project summary


The objective of the BELCOLOUR-2 project is to improve the quality of existing optical remote sensing products for marine, coastal and inland waters based on new knowledge and to develop innovative products (including primary production and partial pressure of CO2) for key applications such as aquaculture and air-sea CO2 fluxes.

More specifically the objectives are to:

  • Improve the quality and the quality control of existing earth observation products for total suspended matter, chlorophyll a and diffuse attenuation.
  • Develop and validate algorithms for detection and correction of adjacency effects and for detection/correction/mapping of bottom effects
  • Improve and validate algorithms for atmospheric correction, particularly aspects concerning turbid waters, moderate sun glint and absorbing aerosols.
  • Develop new algorithms for phytoplankton-related parameters including phytoplankton taxonomic groups and determine their range of applicability (detection limits, limitations on feasibility related to optical water type).
  • Develop new products (such as PAR attenuation and partial pressure of CO2) for use with ecosystem and carbon cycle models in an integrated assessment of primary production and air-sea CO2 fluxes.
  • Provide the basic research to support the design of new sensors.


The duration of the BELCOLOUR-2 project was from 1 st December 2006 till 30 th November 2011.

Expected outcome, target products and users

The expected results are:

  • Improved algorithms for remote sensing estimation of chlorophyll a and suspended particulate matter concentration (and associated product quality) and new algorithms for diffuse attenuation coefficient, primary production, phytoplankton functional groups and partial pressure of CO2.
  • Multi-year, multi-sensor satellite data archive of abovementioned products.
  • Validation/accuracy statement for each of these products.
  • Improved protocols for in situ measurement of optical properties.
  • Improved scientific understanding of optical properties of phytoplankton, impact of bottom reflectance and adjacency effects in remote sensed data.
  • Scientific publications documenting the abovementioned results.

The target products are maps of suspended matter and chlorophyll concentration, primary production and partial pressure of CO2 for coastal waters.

The BELCOLOUR-2 project has users and applications in the fields of water quality management, harmful algae bloom detection, carbon cycling, sediment transport, aquaculture and fisheries, etc.

Target region

The target region is Belgian coastal waters and adjacent North Sea and Channel waters. Other test sites include the Spuikom in Ostend (inland water body), the Southern Ocean, Australian coastal waters (temperate, tropical and sub-tropical), the Gironde and Tamar estuary and the Bristol Channel.


The BELCOLOUR-2 research team is a multidisciplinary partnership, including both Belgian and international partners, with scientific expertise in aquatic optics, optical remote sensing theory, and image processing as well as physical and chemical oceanography, phytoplankton ecophysiology and marine ecology.