Remote Sensing of the Surface Area of West Texas Playa Lakes from the Sentinel-2A/B Satellites



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The numerous playa lakes found across the Southern High Plains, USA are valued for both their ecological importance and as potential sources of aquifer recharge. The surface water area of these small ephemeral lakes varies significantly due to the highly variable rainfall patterns observed. While a few aircraft and satellite studies have previously studied the larger playa lakes in the region, no known study has utilized the high-resolution capabilities of the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-2A/B twin satellites to study thousands of smaller playa lakes. In this study, we analyze variations in playa lake area across Western Texas, USA using data from the Sentinel-2A/B satellites. Playa lake surfaces are identified using the Semi-Automatic Classification Plugin for QGIS. This study demonstrates the feasibility of utilizing Sentinel-2A/B satellite data to both operationally monitor the state of playa lakes across the region for ecological and hydrological applications, as well as potentially identify which playa lakes contribute the most to groundwater recharge.



Playa, Sentinel-2, GIS, Land Classification, Water Classification


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