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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.

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.

Kahru, M, Kudela RM, Manzano-Sarabia M, Mitchell BG.  2012.  Trends in the surface chlorophyll of the California Current: Merging data from multiple ocean color satellites. Deep-Sea Research Part Ii-Topical Studies in Oceanography. 77-80:89-98. Abstract

Standard remote sensing reflectance products from four ocean color sensors (OCTS, SeaWiFS, MODISA, MERIS) and over 10,000 in situ measurements of surface chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) concentration in the California Current were used to create empirical algorithms that are consistent with in situ data as well as between individual sensors. Using these algorithms, a merged multi-sensor time series of the surface Chl-a concentration in California Current region was created. The merged Oil-a time series (November 1996-December 2011) show a significant (P < 0.01) increasing trend off central California and significant (P < 0.01) decreasing trends in the central North Pacific gyre and off southern Baja California. Although this 15-year time series is too short to separate interannual and multidecadal cycles from climate trends, both of these trends are consistent with the predicted effects of global warming. The expected increase in vertical stratification of the water column and the resulting decreased vertical flux of nutrients would lead to lower Chl-a in the gyre but the increased upwelling-favorable winds leading to stronger upwelling off central California or the increased nitrate content of the upwelled water would lead to higher Chl-a in the upwelling region. The decreased Chl-a off southern Baja California resembles the effect of a decreased influence of strong El Nino events. (c) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.