MEPS 258:19-30 (2003)  -  doi:10.3354/meps258019

Temperature as indicator of optical properties and community structure of marine phytoplankton: implications for remote sensing

Heather A. Bouman1,*, Trevor Platt2, Shubha Sathyendranath3, William K. W. Li2, Venetia Stuart3, Cesar Fuentes-Yaco3, Heidi Maass2, Edward P. W. Horne2, Osvaldo Ulloa4, Vivian Lutz5, Margareth Kyewalyanga6

1Biology Department, and
3Department of Oceanography, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4J1, Canada
2Biological Oceanography Division, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Box 1006, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia B2A 4A2, Canada
4Universidad de Concepción, Casilla 160-C, Concepción 3, Chile
5Instituto Nacional de Investigacion y Desarrollo Pesquero, Paseo Victoria Ocampo 1, Mar del Plata, Argentina
6Institute of Marine Sciences, University of Dar-es-Salaam, PO Box 668, Zanzibar, Tanzania

ABSTRACT: Using temperature as an independent variable, we were able to explain some 43 and 49% of the variance in the specific absorption coefficient of phytoplankton (a*(λ)) at wavelengths (λ) 443 and 676 nm, respectively, for some 1187 samples collected over a broad range of oceanographic regimes. Through examination of ancillary data, we demonstrate that our results are consistent with the view that the size structure and taxonomic composition of phytoplanktonic communities are regulated by physical processes, for which temperature is often a suitable proxy. Results obtained from multiple-linear regression analysis showed that by using temperature and chlorophyll a concentration, both of which can be retrieved by remote sensing, a larger proportion of the residual variance in a*(λ) could be explained than if chlorophyll a concentration were used alone. Furthermore, as a single independent variable, temperature could explain nearly an equal proportion of the variance of a*(λ) as chlorophyll a. These results show clearly the potential of using satellite-derived temperature data to improve retrieval of phytoplankton biomass from remotely sensed data on ocean colour.


KEY WORDS: Phytoplankton community structure · Absorption spectrum · Temperature · Remote sensing


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