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The relationships between field water reflectance spectra and physicochemical data of seven freshwater and five saltwater lakes from the Brazilian Pantanal wetlands were characterized. Selection of the lakes was based on previous inspection of the Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS) images. Principal component analysis (PCA) was used to identify homogeneous groups of lakes, in which the regression relationships were evaluated. The continuum removal method was applied to characterize minor spectral variations in the depth of the absorption bands present in field and image spectra. The results showed lakes with very distinct spectral characteristics. The transition from the freshwater to the saltwater lakes was characterized by lower values of depth and Secchi depth, larger concentrations of dissolved organic carbon (DOC), total suspended sediments (TSS), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), sodium (Na) and potassium (K), and higher values of pH and electrical conductivity. The saline lakes presented a higher overall reflectance in the 400 - 900 nm range than the freshwater lakes, as indicated by the first principal component. From the optically active constituents analysed, DOC better explained variations in water reflectance. The discrimination of the saltwater lakes along the second principal component was due to the decrease in the chlorophyll (Chl) and to the increase in the DOC concentrations from the greenish to the bluish saline lakes. The AVIRIS instrument was able to detect the narrow 630 nm absorption band present in field water reflectance spectra

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