Publications

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2017
Kahru, M, Lee ZP, Mitchell BG.  2017.  Contemporaneous disequilibrium of bio-optical properties in the Southern Ocean. Geophysical Research Letters. 44:2835-2842.   10.1002/2016gl072453   AbstractWebsite

Significant changes in satellite-detected net primary production (NPP, mgCm(-2)d(-1)) were observed in the Southern Ocean during 2011-2016: an increase in the Pacific sector and a decrease in the Atlantic sector. While no clear physical forcing was identified, we hypothesize that the changes in NPP were associated with changes in the phytoplankton community and reflected in the concomitant bio-optical properties. Satellite algorithms for chlorophyll a concentration (Chl a, mgm(-3)) use a combination of estimates of the remote sensing reflectance Rrs() that are statistically fitted to a global reference data set. In any particular region or point in space/time the estimate produced by the global mean algorithm can deviate from the true value. Reflectance anomaly (RA) is supposed to remove the first-order variability in Rrs() associated with Chl a and reveal bio-optical properties that are due to the composition of phytoplankton and associated materials. Time series of RA showed variability at multiple scales, including the life span of the sensor, multiyear and annual. Models of plankton functional types using estimated Chl a as input cannot be expected to correctly resolve regional and seasonal anomalies due to biases in the Chl a estimate that they are based on. While a statistical model using RA() time series can predict the times series of NPP with high accuracy (R-2=0.82) in both Pacific and Atlantic regions, the underlying mechanisms in terms of phytoplankton groups and the associated materials remain elusive.

2015
Jacox, MG, Edwards CA, Kahru M, Rudnick DL, Kudela RM.  2015.  The potential for improving remote primary productivity estimates through subsurface chlorophyll and irradiance measurement. Deep-Sea Research Part Ii-Topical Studies in Oceanography. 112:107-116.   10.1016/j.dsr2.2013.12.008   AbstractWebsite

A 26-year record of depth integrated primary productivity (PP) in the Southern California Current System (SCCS) is analyzed with the goal of improving satellite net primary productivity (PP) estimates. Modest improvements in PP model performance are achieved by tuning existing algorithms for the SCCS, particularly by parameterizing carbon fixation rate in the vertically generalized production model as a function of surface chlorophyll concentration and distance from shore. Much larger improvements are enabled by improving the accuracy of subsurface chlorophyll and light profiles. In a simple vertically resolved production model for the SCCS (VRPM-SC), substitution of in situ surface data for remote sensing estimates offers only marginal improvements in model r(2) (from 0.54 to 0.56) and total log(10) root mean squared difference (from 0.22 to 0.21), while inclusion of in situ chlorophyll and light profiles improves these metrics to 0.77 and 0.15, respectively. Autonomous underwater gliders, capable of measuring subsurface properties on long-term, long-range deployments, significantly improve PP model fidelity in the SCCS. We suggest their use (and that of other autonomous profilers such as Argo floats) in conjunction with satellites as a way forward for large-scale improvements in PP estimation. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

2014
Kahru, M, Kudela RM, Anderson CR, Manzano-Sarabia M, Mitchell BG.  2014.  Evaluation of satellite retrievals of ocean chlorophyll-a in the California Current. Remote Sensing. 6:8524-8540.   10.3390/rs6098524   AbstractWebsite

Retrievals of ocean surface chlorophyll-a concentration (Chla) by multiple ocean color satellite sensors (SeaWiFS, MODIS-Terra, MODIS-Aqua, MERIS, VIIRS) using standard algorithms were evaluated in the California Current using a large archive of in situ measurements. Over the full range of in situ Chla, all sensors produced a coefficient of determination (R-2) between 0.79 and 0.88 and a median absolute percent error (MdAPE) between 21% and 27%. However, at in situ Chla > 1 mg m(-3), only products from MERIS (both the ESA produced algal_1 and NASA produced chlor_a) maintained reasonable accuracy (R-2 from 0.74 to 0.52 and MdAPE from 23% to 31%, respectively), while the other sensors had R-2 below 0.5 and MdAPE higher than 36%. We show that the low accuracy at medium and high Chla is caused by the poor retrieval of remote sensing reflectance.

2012
Kahru, M, Di Lorenzo E, Manzano-Sarabia M, Mitchell BG.  2012.  Spatial and temporal statistics of sea surface temperature and chlorophyll fronts in the California Current. Journal of Plankton Research. 34:749-760.   10.1093/plankt/fbs010   AbstractWebsite

The statistics of sea-surface fronts detected with the automated histogram method were studied in the California Current using sea-surface temperature (SST) and chlorophyll-a concentration (Chl) images from various satellite sensors. Daily maps of fronts were averaged into monthly composites of front frequency (FF) spanning 29 years (19812009) for SST and 14 years (19972010) for Chl. The large-scale distributions of frontal frequency of both SST (FFsst) and of Chl (FFchl) had a 500700 km wide band of elevated values (47) along the coast that roughly coincided with the area of increased mesoscale eddy activity. FFsst and FFchl were positively correlated at monthly and seasonal frequencies, but the year-to-year variations were not significantly correlated. The long-period (1 year and longer) variability in FFsst is influenced by the large-scale SST gradient, while at shorter timescales the influence of the Coastal Upwelling Index is evident. In contrast with FFsst, FFchl variability is less related to the coherent large-scale forcing and has stronger sensitivity to local forcings in individual areas. Decadal-scale increasing trends in the frequency of both SST and Chl fronts were detected in the Ensenada Front area (general area of the A-Front study) and corresponded to, respectively, trends towards colder SST and increasing chlorophyll-a concentration.

2011
Kahru, M, Brotas V, Manzano-Sarabia M, Mitchell BG.  2011.  Are phytoplankton blooms occurring earlier in the Arctic? Global Change Biology. 17:1733-1739.   10.1111/j.1365-2486.2010.02312.x   AbstractWebsite

Time series of satellite-derived surface chlorophyll-a concentration (Chl) in 1997-2009 were used to examine for trends in the timing of the annual phytoplankton bloom maximum. Significant trends towards earlier phytoplankton blooms were detected in about 11% of the area of the Arctic Ocean with valid Chl data, e.g. in the Hudson Bay, Foxe Basin, Baffin Sea, off the coasts of Greenland, in the Kara Sea and around Novaya Zemlya. These areas roughly coincide with areas where ice concentration has decreased in early summer (June), thus making the earlier blooms possible. In the selected areas, the annual phytoplankton bloom maximum has advanced by up to 50 days which may have consequences for the Arctic food chain and carbon cycling. Outside the Arctic, the annual Chl maximum has become earlier in boreal North Pacific but later in the North Atlantic.

2010
Kahru, M, Mitchell BG.  2010.  Blending of ocean colour algorithms applied to the Southern Ocean. Remote Sensing Letters. 1:119-124.   10.1080/01431160903547940   AbstractWebsite

A method of blending of a specific satellite ocean colour algorithm in the Southern Ocean (SO) with a generic algorithm elsewhere is proposed. The SO is known to have bio-optical properties that require a different bio-optical algorithm for retrieving chlorophyll-a concentration. Merging data retrieved with a specific algorithm in one area with data retrieved with another algorithm elsewhere has remained a problem. We use a blending scheme that uses both bio-optical properties and the location of the pixel relative to the mean position of the Subtropical Front to create a smooth transition from one algorithm to another. The method can be applied to other regions or variables after modification.

2007
Kahru, M, Fiedler PC, Gille ST, Manzano M, Mitchell BG.  2007.  Sea level anomalies control phytoplankton biomass in the Costa Rica Dome area. Geophysical Research Letters. 34   10.1029/2007gl031631   AbstractWebsite

Satellite data show that chlorophyll-a concentration (Chl-a) in the northeastern tropical Pacific is well correlated with sea level anomaly (SLA). This correlation spans a wide spectrum of scales from large-scale phenomena like ENSO to mesoscale cyclonic and anticyclonic eddies. Negative SLA (e. g. during La Ni (n) over tildea events and in cyclonic eddies) is associated with the lifting of isopycnals in the nutricline and increased Chl-a due to enhanced phytoplankton growth, while positive SLA (e. g. during El Ni (n) over tildeo events and in anticyclonic eddies) is associated with a deeper nutricline and reduced Chl-a due to decreased phytoplankton growth. The coupling between SLA and Chl-a anomaly in the Costa Rica Dome (CRD) area is tighter than has previously been recorded anywhere in the world ocean. 70% of the interannual variations in Chl-a anomaly in the CRD area is explained by a combination of the positive and negative effects of SLA.

Kahru, M, Savchuk OP, Elmgren R.  2007.  Satellite measurements of cyanobacterial bloom frequency in the Baltic Sea: interannual and spatial variability. Marine Ecology-Progress Series. 343:15-23.   10.3354/meps06943   AbstractWebsite

Owing to the potentially harmful character of nitrogen-fixing filamentous cyanobacterial blooms in the Baltic Sea, a capacity to predict their occurrence is of interest. We quantified the surface accumulations of cyanobacteria, mainly Nodularia spumigena, using ocean colour satellite data. The spatial and temporal frequency of the accumulations was mapped with an automated detection algorithm, using their high reflectance in the 670 or 555 nm bands. Coastal Zone Color Scanner (CZCS) data were used for a first period (1979 to 1984), and combined SeaWiFS and MODIS-Aqua data for a second period (1998 to 2006). The frequency of cyanobacterial accumulations (FCA) for each 1 km(2) pixel was calculated as the ratio of scenes with detected cyanobacteria to the number of valid cloud-free scenes in July-August. FCA varied greatly among years and the basins of the Baltic Sea. Mean FCA was 39% higher in the second period, but the increase was not statistically significant. The mean FCA for the whole Baltic was positively correlated with the residual phosphate (RP) concentration after the spring bloom in May-June. RP was a useful predictor of FCA in the coming summer, but could not predict the spatial pattern of the bloom. This was better explained by prevailing winds, with high FCA in the southwestern Baltic after northerly winds in July. It seems that, at the time of writing, useful FCA predictions can be made after the spring bloom, but only for the whole Baltic.

2006
Murakami, H, Sasaoka K, Hosoda K, Fukushima H, Toratani M, Frouin R, Mitchell BG, Kahru M, Deschamps PY, Clark D, Flora S, Kishino M, Saitoh S, Asanuma I, Tanaka A, Sasaki H, Yokouchi K, Kiyomoto Y, Saito H, Dupouy C, Siripong A, Matsumura S, Ishizaka J.  2006.  Validation of ADEOS-II GLI ocean color products using in-situ observations. Journal of Oceanography. 62:373-393.   10.1007/s10872-006-0062-6   AbstractWebsite

The Global Imager (GLI) aboard the Advanced Earth Observing Satellite-II (ADEOS-II) made global observations from 2 April 2003 to 24 October 2003. In cooperation with several institutes and scientists, we obtained quality controlled match-ups between GLI products and in-situ data, 116 for chlorophyll-a concentration (CHLA), 249 for normalized water-leaving radiance (nLw) at 443 nm, and 201 for aerosol optical thickness at 865 nm (Tau_865) and Angstrom exponent between 520 and 865 nm (Angstrom). We evaluated the GLI ocean color products and investigated the causes of errors using the match-ups. The median absolute percentage differences (MedPD) between GLI and in-situ data were 14.1-35.7% for nLws at 380-565 nm 52.5-74.8% nLws at 625-680 nm, 47.6% for Tau_865, 46.2% for Angstrom, and 46.6% for CHLA, values that are comparable to the ocean-color products of other sensors. We found that some errors in GLI products are correlated with observational conditions; nLw values were underestimated when nLw at 680 nm was high, CHLA was underestimated in absorptive aerosol conditions, and Tau_865 was overestimated in sunglint regions. The error correlations indicate that we need to improve the retrievals of the optical properties of absorptive aerosols and seawater and sea surface reflection for further applications, including coastal monitoring and the combined use of products from multiple sensors.

2004
Holm-Hansen, O, Kahru M, Hewes CD, Kawaguchi S, Kameda T, Sushin VA, Krasovski I, Priddle J, Korb R, Hewitt RP, Mitchell BG.  2004.  Temporal and spatial distribution of chlorophyll-a in surface waters of the Scotia Sea as determined by both shipboard measurements and satellite data. Deep-Sea Research Part Ii-Topical Studies in Oceanography. 51:1323-1331.   10.1016/j.dsr2.2004.06.004   AbstractWebsite

Chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) concentrations in surface waters were measured at 137 hydrographic stations occupied by four research vessels participating in the CCAMLR 2000 Survey and the values were compared to estimates from data acquired by the SeaWiFS satellite. The Chl-a concentrations measured on board ship ranged from 0.06 to 14.6 mg m(-3), a range that includes most surface Chl-a concentrations during mid-summer in the Southern Ocean. Owing to persistent cloud cover over much of the Southern Ocean, it was necessary to acquire multi-day composites of satellite data in order to obtain reliable estimates of Chl-a at each of the hydrographic stations. The correlation between the median value for the eight-day composites and the Chl-a concentrations measured on board ship had an R-2 value of 0.82, with the satellite data under-estimating the values obtained on board ship at high Chl-a concentrations and slightly overestimating the shipboard data at Chl-a concentrations of < 0.2 mg m(-3). For Chl-a concentrations of < 1.0 mg m(-3), the ratio of the satellite estimates divided by the shipboard values was 0.89 +/- 0.45 (n = 50). As the mean Chl-a concentration in most pelagic Antarctic waters is close to 0.5 mg m(-3), satellite estimates for Chl-a concentrations in surface waters are thus close to shipboard measurements, and offer the advantage of providing synoptic maps of Chl-a distribution over extensive areas of the Southern Ocean. Satellite Chl-a images for the months preceding (December 1999) and following (February 2000) the CCAMLR 2000 Survey cruises showed that the general pattern of Chl-a concentration in the Scotia Sea and adjoining waters was similar in all three months, but that the phytoplankton biomass was generally lowest in December, reached maximal values in January, and started to decline in February. in contrast, Chl-a concentrations in Drake Passage declined progressively from early December through February. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

2001
Kahru, M, Mitchell BG.  2001.  Seasonal and nonseasonal variability of satellite-derived chlorophyll and colored dissolved organic matter concentration in the California Current. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 106:2517-2529.   10.1029/1999jc000094   AbstractWebsite

Time series of surface chlorophyll a concentration (Chl) and colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM) derived from the Ocean Color and Temperature Sensor and Sea-Viewing Wide Field-of-View Sensor were evaluated for the California Current area using regional algorithms. Satellite data composited for 8-day periods provide the ability to describe large-scale changes in surface parameters. These changes are difficult to detect based on in situ observations alone that suffer from undersampling the large temporal and spatial variability, especially in Chi. We detected no significant bias in satellite Chi estimates compared with ship-based measurements. The variability in CDOM concentration was significantly smaller than that in Chi, both spatially and temporally. While being subject to large interannual and short-term variations, offshore waters (100-1000 km from the shore) have an annual cycle of Chi and CDOM with a maximum in winter-spring (December-March) and a minimum in late summer. For inshore waters the maximum is more likely in spring (April-May). We detect significant increase in both Chi and CDOM off central and southern California during the La Nina year of 1999. The trend of increasing Chi and CDOM from October 1996 to June 2000 is statistically significant in many areas.

2000
Kahru, M, Mitchell BG.  2000.  Influence of the 1997-98 El Nino on the surface chlorophyll in the California Current. Geophysical Research Letters. 27:2937-2940.   10.1029/2000gl011486   AbstractWebsite

Satellite-derived time series for the California Current System (CCS) showed marked changes in the surface chlorophyll a concentration (Chl, mg m(-3)) associated with the 1997-98 El Nino. In addition to the previously known de crease in Chi off Southern California (Fiedler, 1984), we also observed a significant increase of Chi off Baja California. Whereas the extent of eutrophic (Chl > 1.0) areas decreased throughout the CCS, the extent of mesotrophic areas (0.2 < Chi < 1.0) off Baja California approximately doubled. The reduced area of eutrophic waters is attributed to weakened upwelling but the increase in the offshore mesotrophic area off Baja may be caused by blooms of nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria. Using revised Coastal Zone Color Scanner data we detected similar changes during the 1982-83 El Nino.