Journal cover Journal topic
Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Journal topic
Volume 8, issue 12
Biogeosciences, 8, 3631–3647, 2011
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-8-3631-2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Biogeosciences, 8, 3631–3647, 2011
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-8-3631-2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 13 Dec 2011

Research article | 13 Dec 2011

An algorithm for detecting Trichodesmium surface blooms in the South Western Tropical Pacific

C. Dupouy1, D. Benielli-Gary2, J. Neveux3, Y. Dandonneau4, and T. K. Westberry5 C. Dupouy et al.
  • 1LOPB – Laboratoire d'Océanographie Physique et Biogéochimique, UMR 6535, CNRS-INSU-IRD-Université de la Méditerranée, 1M213, Centre de Nouméa, B. P. A5, New Caledonia, France
  • 2LAM – Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille, Pôle de l'Étoile Site de Château-Gombert 38, rue Frédéric Joliot-Curie 13388, Marseille Cedex 13, France
  • 3UPMC – CNRS, UMR7621, Observatoire Océanologique de Banyuls, Laboratoire d'Océanographie Microbienne, Avenue Fontaulé, 66651 Banyuls sur Mer, France
  • 4Université de Paris VI-UPMC-LOCEAN and 14 rue de la Victoire, 91740 Chamarande, France
  • 5Dept. Botany Plant Pathology, Oregon State University Corvallis, OR 97331–2902, USA

Abstract. Trichodesmium, a major colonial cyanobacterial nitrogen fixer, forms large blooms in NO3-depleted tropical oceans and enhances CO2 sequestration by the ocean due to its ability to fix dissolved dinitrogen. Thus, its importance in C and N cycles requires better estimates of its distribution at basin to global scales. However, existing algorithms to detect them from satellite have not yet been successful in the South Western Tropical Pacific (SP). Here, a novel algorithm (TRICHOdesmium SATellite) based on radiance anomaly spectra (RAS) observed in SeaWiFS imagery, is used to detect Trichodesmium during the austral summertime in the SP (5° S–25° S 160° E–170° W). Selected pixels are characterized by a restricted range of parameters quantifying RAS spectra (e.g. slope, intercept, curvature). The fraction of valid (non-cloudy) pixels identified as Trichodesmium surface blooms in the region is low (between 0.01 and 0.2 %), but is about 100 times higher than deduced from previous algorithms. At daily scales in the SP, this fraction represents a total ocean surface area varying from 16 to 48 km2 in Winter and from 200 to 1000 km2 in Summer (and at monthly scale, from 500 to 1000 km2 in Winter and from 3100 to 10 890 km2 in Summer with a maximum of 26 432 km2 in January 1999). The daily distribution of Trichodesmium surface accumulations in the SP detected by TRICHOSAT is presented for the period 1998–2010 which demonstrates that the number of selected pixels peaks in November–February each year, consistent with field observations. This approach was validated with in situ observations of Trichodesmium surface accumulations in the Melanesian archipelago around New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Fiji Islands for the same period.

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