Articles | Volume 6, issue 5
06 May 2009
 | 06 May 2009

Quantitative observation of cyanobacteria and diatoms from space using PhytoDOAS on SCIAMACHY data

A. Bracher, M. Vountas, T. Dinter, J. P. Burrows, R. Röttgers, and I. Peeken

Abstract. In this study the technique of Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy (DOAS) has been adapted for the retrieval of the absorption and biomass of two major phytoplankton groups (PhytoDOAS) from data of the Scanning Imaging Absorption Spectrometer for Atmospheric Chartography (SCIAMACHY) satellite sensor. SCIAMACHY measures back scattered solar radiation in the UV-Vis-NIR spectral regions with a high spectral resolution (0.2 to 1.5 nm). In order to identify phytoplankton absorption characteristics in the SCIAMACHY data in the range of 430 to 500 nm, phytoplankton absorption spectra measured in-situ during two different RV "Polarstern" expeditions were used. The two spectra have been measured in different ocean regions where different phytoplankton groups (cyanobacteria and diatoms) dominated the phytoplankton composition. Results clearly show distinct absorption characteristics of the two phytoplankton groups in the SCIAMACHY spectra. Using these results in addition to calculations of the light penetration depth derived from DOAS retrievals of the inelastic scattering (developed by Vountas et al., 2007), globally distributed pigment concentrations for these characteristic phytoplankton groups for two monthly periods (February–March 2004 and October–November 2005) were determined. This satellite information on cyanobacteria and diatoms distribution clearly matches the concentrations based on high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) pigment analysis of collocated water samples and concentrations derived from a global model analysis with the NASA Ocean Biogeochemical Model (Gregg et al., 2003; Gregg and Casey 2007). The quantitative assessment of the distribution of key phytoplankton groups from space enables various biogeochemical regions to be distinguished and will be of great importance for the global modeling of marine ecosystems and biogeochemical cycles which enables the impact of climate change in the oceanic biosphere to be estimated.

Final-revised paper