Submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) is an important indicator of freshwater and marine water quality in almost all shallow water aquatic environments. Throughout the world the diversity of submerged aquatic vegetation appears to be in decline, although sufficient historical data, of sufficient quantitative quality is lacking. Hyperspectral remote sensing technology, available from low altitude aircraft sensors, may provide a basis to improve upon existing
photographic regional assessments and monitoring concerned with the aerial extent and coverage of SAV. In addition, modern low altitude remote sensing may also help in the development of environmental satellite requirements for future satellite payloads. This paper documents several important spectral reflectance signature features which may be useful in developing a protocol for remote sensing of SAV, and which is transferable to other shallow water aquatic habitats around the world. Specifically, we show that the shape or curvature of the spectral reflectance absorption feature centered near the chlorophyll absorption region of ~ 675 nm is strongly influenced not only by the relative backscatter region between 530-560 nm, but by a “submerged vegetation red edge” that appears
in the 695 to 700 nm region in extremely high density vegetative areas in very shallow waters (= 0.5m depth). This “aquatic biomass red edge” is also observable in deeper waters where there is a shallow subsurface algal boom as demonstrated in this paper. Use of this submerged aquatic red edge feature will become an important component of SAV remote sensing in shallow aquatic habitats, as well as in phytoplankton-related water quality remote sensing applications of surface phytoplankton blooms.