Publications

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2016
Anderson, CR, Kudela RM, Kahru M, Chao Y, Rosenfeld LK, Bahr FL, Anderson DM, Norris TA.  2016.  Initial skill assessment of the California Harmful Algae Risk Mapping (C-HARM) system. Harmful Algae. 59:1-18.   10.1016/j.hal.2016.08.006   AbstractWebsite

Toxic algal events are an annual burden on aquaculture and coastal ecosystems of California. The threat of domoic acid (DA) toxicity to human and wildlife health is the dominant harmful algal bloom (HAB) concern for the region, leading to a strong focus on prediction and mitigation of these blooms and their toxic effects. This paper describes the initial development of the California Harmful Algae Risk Mapping (C-HARM) system that predicts the spatial likelihood of blooms and dangerous levels of DA using a unique blend of numerical models, ecological forecast models of the target group, Pseudo-nitzschia, and satellite ocean color imagery. Data interpolating empirical orthogonal functions (DINEOF) are applied to ocean color imagery to fill in missing data and then used in a multivariate mode with other modeled variables to forecast biogeochemical parameters. Daily predictions (nowcast and forecast maps) are run routinely at the Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System (CeNCOOS) and posted on its public website. Skill assessment of model output for the nowcast data is restricted to nearshore pixels that overlap with routine pier monitoring of HABs in California from 2014 to 2015. Model lead times are best correlated with DA measured with solid phase adsorption toxin tracking (SPATI') and marine mammal strandings from DA toxicosis, suggesting long-term benefits of the HAB predictions to decision making. Over the next three years, the C-HARM application system will be incorporated into the NOAA operational HAB forecasting system and HAB Bulletin. (C) 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Melville, WK, Lenain L, Cayan DR, Kahru M, Kleissl JP, Linden PF, Statom NM.  2016.  The Modular Aerial Sensing System. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology. 33:1169-1184.   10.1175/jtech-d-15-0067.1   AbstractWebsite

Satellite remote sensing has enabled remarkable progress in the ocean, earth, atmospheric, and environmental sciences through its ability to provide global coverage with ever-increasing spatial resolution. While exceptions exist for geostationary ocean color satellites, the temporal coverage of low-Earth-orbiting satellites is not optimal for oceanographic processes that evolve over time scales of hours to days. In hydrology, time scales can range from hours for flash floods, to days for snowfall, to months for the snowmelt into river systems. On even smaller scales, remote sensing of the built environment requires a building-resolving resolution of a few meters or better. For this broad range of phenomena, satellite data need to be supplemented with higher-resolution airborne data that are not tied to the strict schedule of a satellite orbit. To address some of these needs, a novel, portable, high-resolution airborne topographic lidar with video, infrared, and hyperspectral imaging systems was integrated. The system is coupled to a highly accurate GPS-aided inertial measurement unit (GPS IMU), permitting airborne measurements of the sea surface displacement, temperature, and kinematics with swath widths of up to 800 m under the aircraft, and horizontal spatial resolution as low as 0.2 m. These data are used to measure ocean waves, currents, Stokes drift, sea surface height (SSH), ocean transport and dispersion, and biological activity. Hydrological and terrestrial applications include measurements of snow cover and the built environment. This paper describes the system, its performance, and present results from recent oceanographic, hydrological, and terrestrial measurements.

2015
Saba, VS, Hyde KJW, Rebuck ND, Friedland KD, Hare JA, Kahru M, Fogarty MJ.  2015.  Physical associations to spring phytoplankton biomass interannual variability in the US Northeast Continental Shelf. Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences. 120:205-220.   10.1002/2014jg002770   AbstractWebsite

The continental shelf of the Northeast United States and Nova Scotia is a productive marine ecosystem that supports a robust biomass of living marine resources. Understanding marine ecosystem sensitivity to changes in the physical environment can start with the first-order response of phytoplankton (i.e., chlorophyll a), the base of the marine food web. However, the primary physical associations to the interannual variability of chlorophyll a in these waters are unclear. Here we used ocean color satellite measurements and identified the local and remote physical associations to interannual variability of spring surface chlorophyll a from 1998 to 2013. The highest interannual variability of chlorophyll a occurred in March and April on the northern flank of Georges Bank, the western Gulf of Maine, and Nantucket Shoals. Complex interactions between winter wind speed over the Shelf, local winter water levels, and the relative proportions of Atlantic versus Labrador Sea source waters entering the Gulf of Maine from the previous summer/fall were associated with the variability of March/April chlorophyll a in Georges Bank and the Gulf of Maine. Sea surface temperature and sea surface salinity were not robust correlates to spring chlorophyll a. Surface nitrate in the winter was not a robust correlate to chlorophyll a or the physical variables in every case suggesting that nitrate limitation may not be the primary constraint on the interannual variability of the spring bloom throughout all regions. Generalized linear models suggest that we can resolve 88% of March chlorophyll a interannual variability in Georges Bank using lagged physical data.

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.

McQuatters-Gollop, A, Reid PC, Edwards M, Burkill PH, Castellani C, Batten S, Gieskes W, Beare D, Bidigare RR, Head E, Johnson R, Kahru M, Koslow JA, Pena A.  2011.  Is there a decline in marine phytoplankton? Nature. 472:E6-E7.   10.1038/nature09950   AbstractWebsite

Phytoplankton account for approximately 50% of global primary production, form the trophic base of nearly all marine ecosystems, are fundamental in trophic energy transfer and have key roles in climate regulation, carbon sequestration and oxygen production. Boyce et al. compiled a chlorophyll index by combining in situ chlorophyll and Secchi disk depth measurements that spanned a more than 100-year time period and showed a decrease in marine phytoplankton biomass of approximately 1% of the global median per year over the past century. Eight decades of data on phytoplankton biomass collected in the North Atlantic by the Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) survey, however, show an increase in an index of chlorophyll (Phytoplankton Colour Index) in both the Northeast and Northwest Atlantic basinsFig. 1), and other long-term time series, including the Hawaii Ocean Time-series (HOT)8, the Bermuda Atlantic Time Series (BATS)8 and the California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI)9 also indicate increased phytoplankton biomass over the last 20–50 years. These findings, which were not discussed by Boyce et al.1, are not in accordance with their conclusions and illustrate the importance of using consistent observations when estimating long-term trends.

2008
Barlow, J, Kahru M, Mitchell BG.  2008.  Cetacean biomass, prey consumption, and primary production requirements in the California Current ecosystem. Marine Ecology-Progress Series. 371:285-295.   10.3354/meps07695   AbstractWebsite

To better understand the role played by cetaceans as top-level predators in the California Current ecosystem, we estimate the fraction of annual net primary production (NPP) required to support the prey consumed by cetaceans, using a simple trophic transfer model. The biomass of cetacean species in the California Current is calculated as the product of their mean summer and fall abundance during 1991, to 2005 and estimates of mean mass ind.(-1). Total prey consumption by cetaceans is estimated from a mass-specific consumption model. NPP is estimated from remote satellite measurements using the Behrenfeld-Falkowski vertically-generalized production model for each of 4 geographic regions. The total biomass of baleen whales exceeds the biomass of toothed whales by a factor of similar to 2.5; however, the estimated prey consumption by these taxa is nearly equal. Assuming 10% trophic transfer efficiency, cetaceans are estimated to require 32.2 g C m(-2) yr(-1) of primary production, or similar to 12 % of the NPP in the study area, to sustain the prey that they directly consume. Because they feed at a lower trophic level, the primary production requirement (PPR) of baleen whales is similar to 13 % of that of toothed whales, despite their 2.5-fold greater biomass. Uncertainty in trophic transfer efficiency results in the greatest uncertainty in estimating PPR for these upper trophic predators.

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.

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.

1995
Kahru, M, Hakansson B, Rud O.  1995.  Distributions of the Sea-Surface Temperature Fronts in the Baltic Sea as Derived from Satellite Imagery. Continental Shelf Research. 15:663-679.   10.1016/0278-4343(94)e0030-p   AbstractWebsite

A 9-month time series of satellite infrared imagery was used to examine the sea surface temperature (SST) variability in the northern and central Baltic Sea. Objective multi-level edge detection techniques were applied to find sharp SST gradient areas known as fronts. The spatial distribution of frontal frequency was calculated over time periods from a few days to 9 months covering different thermal and wind conditions. The 9-month average frequency that a front is detected in a pixel of 1.1 x 1.1 km is up to 10% in certain areas whereas the median is around 2%. Large scale fronts are aligned to the coast and isobaths, and occur predominantly in areas of straight and uniformly sloping bottom topography. The major frontal areas are along the eastern coast of the Bothnian Sea and along the north-western coast of the Gulf of Finland. Low large-scale frontal frequency is characteristic to areas with highly structured bottom topography. The major mechanism of front generation is coastal upwelling, being complemented by coastal jets, eddies, differential heating and cooling, and water exchange between basins with different water characteristics. Filaments (''squirts'') originating from upwelling areas are shown to be an important mechanism for transporting water and substances over long distances.

1993
Kahru, M, Leppanen JM, Rud O.  1993.  Cyanobacterial Blooms Cause Heating of the Sea-Surface. Marine Ecology-Progress Series. 101:1-7.   10.3354/meps101001   AbstractWebsite

A series of AVHRR (Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer) satellite images and simultaneous ship transects in July 1992 were used to show that surface accumulations of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) in the southern Baltic Sea can cause local increases in the satellite-derived sea surface temperature (SST) by up to 1.5-degrees-C. The warmer SST is attributed to increased absorption of sunlight due to increased phytoplankton pigment concentration. The distribution of surface cyanobacterial accumulations detected as increased reflectance in the visible channel of the AVHRR satellite sensor was correlated with chlorophyll concentration at 5 m depth. Warm SST anomalies ('hot spots') appeared both in accumulations of surface-floating cyanobacteria and in areas of high chlorophyll concentration (detected by shipboard measurements). The 'hot spots' followed the detailed boundaries of the cyanobacterial plumes and probably represented a shallow, diurnally heated top layer that appeared by afternoon in conditions of low wind (2 m s-1) and weak mixing, disappeared during the night due to thermal convection and were hardly detectable on days with wind speed of 6 to 8 m s-1. The vertical extension of the top diurnally heated layer was probably less than 1 m and definitely less than 5 m, at which depth no temperature increase was detected. It is suggested that the day/night SST difference in low-wind conditions may be an indicator of near-surface phytoplankton pigment concentration.