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Remote sensing of coccolithophore blooms in selected oceanic regions using the PhytoDOAS method applied to hyper-spectral satellite data

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  • Earth Science
  • Physics


In this study temporal variations of coccolithophore blooms are investigated using satellite data. Eight years (from 2003 to 2010) of data of SCIAMACHY, a hyper-spectral satellite sensor on-board ENVISAT, were processed by the PhytoDOAS method to monitor the biomass of coccolithophores in three selected regions. These regions are characterized by frequent occurrence of large coccolithophore blooms. The retrieval results, shown as monthly mean time series, were compared to related satellite products, including the total surface phytoplankton, i.e. total chlorophyll a (from GlobColour merged data) and the particulate inorganic carbon (from MODIS-Aqua). The inter-annual variations of the phytoplankton bloom cycles and their maximum monthly mean values have been compared in the three selected regions to the variations of the geophysical parameters: sea-surface temperature (SST), mixed-layer depth (MLD) and surface wind-speed, which are known to affect phytoplankton dynamics. For each region, the anomalies and linear trends of the monitored parameters over the period of this study have been computed. The patterns of total phytoplankton biomass and specific dynamics of coccolithophore chlorophyll a in the selected regions are discussed in relation to other studies. The PhytoDOAS results are consistent with the two other ocean color products and support the reported dependencies of coccolithophore biomass dynamics on the compared geophysical variables. This suggests that PhytoDOAS is a valid method for retrieving coccolithophore biomass and for monitoring its bloom developments in the global oceans. Future applications of time series studies using the PhytoDOAS data set are proposed, also using the new upcoming generations of hyper-spectral satellite sensors with improved spatial resolution.

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