Articles | Volume 4, issue 5
Biogeosciences, 4, 853–868, 2007

Special issue: Biogeochemistry and Optics South Pacific Experiment...

Biogeosciences, 4, 853–868, 2007

  16 Oct 2007

16 Oct 2007

Relationship between photosynthetic parameters and different proxies of phytoplankton biomass in the subtropical ocean

Y. Huot1, M. Babin1, F. Bruyant2, C. Grob4, M. S. Twardowski3, and H. Claustre1 Y. Huot et al.
  • 1CNRS, Laboratoire d'Océanographie de Villefranche, 06230 Villefranche-sur-Mer, France; Université Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris 6, Laboratoire d'Océanographie de Villefranche, 06230 Villefranche-sur-Mer, France
  • 2Dalhousie University, Department of Oceanography, 1355 Oxford Street, Halifax N.S. B3H 4J1, Canada
  • 3WET Labs, Inc., Department of Research, 165 Dean Knauss Dr., Narragansett, RI 02882, USA
  • 4Graduate Program in Oceanography, Department of Oceanography and Center for Oceanographic Research in the eastern South Pacific, University of Concepción, Casilla 160-C, Concepción, Chile

Abstract. Probably because it is a readily available ocean color product, almost all models of primary productivity use chlorophyll as their index of phytoplankton biomass. As other variables become more readily available, both from remote sensing and in situ autonomous platforms, we should ask if other indices of biomass might be preferable. Herein, we compare the accuracy of different proxies of phytoplankton biomass for estimating the maximum photosynthetic rate (Pmax) and the initial slope of the production versus irradiance (P vs. E) curve (α). The proxies compared are: the total chlorophyll a concentration (Tchla, the sum of chlorophyll a and divinyl chlorophyll), the phytoplankton absorption coefficient, the phytoplankton photosynthetic absorption coefficient, the active fluorescence in situ, the particulate scattering coefficient at 650 nm (bp(650)), and the particulate backscattering coefficient at 650 nm (bbp(650)). All of the data (about 170 P vs. E curves) were collected in the South Pacific Ocean. We find that when only the phytoplanktonic biomass proxies are available, bp(650) and Tchla are respectively the best estimators of Pmax and α. When additional variables are available, such as the depth of sampling, the irradiance at depth, or the temperature, Tchla is the best estimator of both Pmax and α.

Final-revised paper