Data from moderate resolution ocean color sensors, such as SeaWiFS and MODIS have greatly enhanced our understanding of the open ocean and shelf waters. However, the spatial and spectral complexity of the near coastal ocean, require higher resolution systems for the littoral zone. Recent experiments with aircraft imaging spectrometers have demonstrated their potential to be powerful tools for the characterization of the coastal ocan. Using the continuous spectral signature it is possible to measure shallow water bathymetry and bottom characteristics, and to gain insight into the distribution of phytoplankton and ot her optically active constituents. To demonstrate this I present recent results using AVIRIS and PHILLS data from the coastal environment.
To obtain large area, repeated coverage of the coastal ocean two spaceborne hyperspectral imagers are planned. The Navy has joined in a partnership with industry to build and fly the Naval EarthMap Observer (NEMO). The NEMO spacecraft has the Coastal Ocean Imaging Spectrometer (COIS) a hyperspectral imager with adequate spectral and spatial resolution and a high signal-to-noise ratio to provide long-term monitoring and real-time characterization of the coastal environment. Additionally, the Integrated Program Office is considering a Coastal Ocean Imager (COI) as part of an Ocean Observer Spacecraft. COI is a hyperspectral imager in the visible with a two band thermal-IR imager for sea surface temperature. COI would provide 100 m resolution imagery over a 150 km wide swath of the coastal ocean.