Environmental monitoring through the method of traditional ship sampling is time consuming and requires a high survey cost. Our study uses an empirical model, based on actual water quality of total suspended solids (TSS) measurements from the Penang Island, Malaysia to predict TSS based on optical properties of Thailand Earth Observation Satellite (THEOS) digital imagery. The objective of this study is to examine the performance of the proposed algorithm for retrieving TSS concentration by using THEOS satellite image over Penang Island, Malaysia. Water samples were collected simultaneously with the airborne image acquisition and later analyzed in the laboratory. Water sample locations were determined by using a Global Positioning System (GPS). The collected water samples were combined for algorithm calibration. The algorithm used was based on the reflectance model, which is a function of the inherent optical properties of water, and these in turn can be related to the concentration of the pollutants. Digital numbers for each band corresponding to the sea‐truth data collected simultaneously with the digital image acquisition were determined for later use in the algorithm calibration analysis. The accuracy of each algorithm was determined based on the values of the correlation coefficient (R) and Root‐Mean‐Square deviation (RMS). This algorithm was then used to map the TSS concentration over Penang, Malaysia. The TSS map was color‐coded and geometrically corrected for visual interpretation. This study indicates that TSS mapping can be carried out using remote sensing technique of the satellite digital photography system over Penang, Malaysia.

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