Relationships between the surface concentration of particulate organic carbon and optical properties in the eastern South Pacific and eastern Atlantic Oceans
Abstract. We have examined several approaches for estimating the surface concentration of particulate organic carbon, POC, from optical measurements of spectral remote-sensing reflectance, Rrs(λ), using field data collected in tropical and subtropical waters of the eastern South Pacific and eastern Atlantic Oceans. These approaches include a direct empirical relationship between POC and the blue-to-green band ratio of reflectance, Rrs(λB)/Rrs(555), and two-step algorithms that consist of relationships linking reflectance to an inherent optical property IOP (beam attenuation or backscattering coefficient) and POC to the IOP. We considered two-step empirical algorithms that exclusively include pairs of empirical relationships and two-step hybrid algorithms that consist of semianalytical models and empirical relationships. The surface POC in our data set ranges from about 10 mg m−3 within the South Pacific Subtropical Gyre to 270 mg m−3 in the Chilean upwelling area, and ancillary data suggest a considerable variation in the characteristics of particulate assemblages in the investigated waters. The POC algorithm based on the direct relationship between POC and Rrs(λB)/Rrs(555) promises reasonably good performance in the vast areas of the open ocean covering different provinces from hyperoligotrophic and oligotrophic waters within subtropical gyres to eutrophic coastal upwelling regimes characteristic of eastern ocean boundaries. The best error statistics were found for power function fits to the data of POC vs. Rrs(443)/Rrs(555) and POC vs. Rrs(490)/Rrs(555). For our data set that includes over 50 data pairs, these relationships are characterized by the mean normalized bias of about 2% and the normalized root mean square error of about 20%. We recommend that these algorithms be implemented for routine processing of ocean color satellite data to produce maps of surface POC with the status of an evaluation data product for continued work on algorithm development and refinements. The two-step algorithms also deserve further attention because they can utilize various models for estimating IOPs from reflectance, offer advantages for developing an understanding of bio-optical variability underlying the algorithms, and provide flexibility for regional or seasonal parameterizations of the algorithms.
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