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.

2016
Kahru, M, Lee ZP, Mitchell BG, Nevison CD.  2016.  Effects of sea ice cover on satellite-detected primary production in the Arctic Ocean. Biology Letters. 12   10.1098/rsbl.2016.0223   AbstractWebsite

The influence of decreasing Arctic sea ice on net primary production (NPP) in the Arctic Ocean has been considered in multiple publications but is not well constrained owing to the potentially large errors in satellite algorithms. In particular, the Arctic Ocean is rich in coloured dissolved organic matter (CDOM) that interferes in the detection of chlorophyll a concentration of the standard algorithm, which is the primary input to NPP models. We used the quasianalytic algorithm (Lee et al. 2002 Appl. Opti. 41, 575525772. (doi: 10.1364/AO.41.005755)) that separates absorption by phytoplankton from absorption by CDOMand detrital matter. We merged satellite data from multiple satellite sensors and created a 19 year time series (1997-2015) of NPP. During this period, both the estimated annual total and the summer monthly maximum pan-Arctic NPP increased by about 47%. Positive monthly anomalies in NPP are highly correlated with positive anomalies in open water area during the summer months. Following the earlier ice retreat, the start of the high-productivity season has become earlier, e.g. at a mean rate of -3.0 d yr(-1) in the northern Barents Sea, and the length of the high-productivity period has increased from15 days in 1998 to 62 days in 2015. While in some areas, the termination of the productive season has been extended, owing to delayed ice formation, the termination has also become earlier in other areas, likely owing to limited nutrients.

2015
Kahru, M, Jacox MG, Lee Z, Kudela RM, Manzano-Sarabia M, Mitchell BG.  2015.  Optimized multi-satellite merger of primary production estimates in the California Current using inherent optical properties. Journal of Marine Systems. 147:94-102.   10.1016/j.jmarsys.2014.06.003   AbstractWebsite

Building a multi-decadal time series of large-scale estimates of net primary production (NPP) requires merging data from multiple ocean color satellites. The primary product of ocean color sensors is spectral remote sensing reflectance (Rrs). We found significant differences (13-18% median absolute percent error) between Rrs estimates at 443 nm of different satellite sensors. These differences in Rrs are transferred to inherent optical properties and further on to estimates of NPP. We estimated NPP for the California Current region from three ocean color sensors (SeaWiFS, MODIS-Aqua and MERIS) using a regionally optimized absorption based primary production model (Aph-PP) of Lee et al. (2011). Optimization of the Aph-PP model was required for each individual satellite sensor in order to make NPP estimates from different sensors compatible with each other. While the concept of Aph-PP has advantages over traditional chlorophyll-based NPP models, in practical application even the optimized Aph-PP model explained less than 60% of the total variance in NPP which is similar to other NPP algorithms. Uncertainties in satellite Rrs estimates as well as uncertainties in parameters representing phytoplankton depth distribution and physiology are likely to be limiting our current capability to accurately estimate NPP from space. Introducing a generic vertical profile for phytoplankton improved slightly the skill of the Aph-PP model. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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
Cape, MR, Vernet M, Kahru M, Spreen G.  2014.  Polynya dynamics drive primary production in the Larsen A and B embayments following ice shelf collapse. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 119:572-594.   10.1002/2013jc009441   AbstractWebsite

The climate-driven collapses of the Larsen A and B ice shelves have opened up new regions of the coastal Antarctic to the influence of sea ice resulting in increases in seasonal primary production. In this study, passive microwave remote sensing of sea ice concentration and satellite imagery of ocean color are employed to quantify the magnitude of and variability in open water area and net primary productivity (NPP) in the Larsen embayments between 1997 and 2011. Numerical model output provides context to analyze atmospheric forcing on the coastal ocean. Following ice shelf disintegration the embayments function as coastal, sensible heat polynyas. The Larsen A and B are as productive as other Antarctic shelf regions, with seasonally averaged daily NPP rates reaching 1232 and 1127 mg C m(-2) d(-1) and annual rates reaching 200 and 184 g C m(-2) yr(-1), respectively. A persistent cross-shelf gradient in NPP is present with higher productivity rates offshore, contrasting with patterns observed along the West Antarctic Peninsula. Embayment productivity is intimately tied to sea ice dynamics, with large interannual variability in NPP rates driven by open water area and the timing of embayment opening. Opening of the embayment is linked to periods of positive Southern Annular Mode and stronger westerlies, which lead to the vertical deflection of warm, maritime air over the peninsula and down the leeward side causing increases in surface air temperature and wind velocity. High productivity in these new polynyas is likely to have ramifications for organic matter export and marine ecosystem evolution. Key Points Primary production and sea ice dynamics after ice shelf disintegration Larsen embayments function as productive coastal sensible heat polynyas High sea ice interannual variability affects total production

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.