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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS - Vol. 411 - Feature article
Pseudo-true color image from the MODIS Aqua sensor at 250 m resolution shows the multihued reflections from shallow waters such as the Great Bahama Bank (center).
Photo: C. Buonassissi and NASA Ocean Biology Processing Group

Dierssen HM, Zimmerman RC, Drake LA, Burdige D


Benthic ecology from space: optics and net primary production in seagrass and benthic algae across the Great Bahama Bank


Benthic productivity in shallow waters is a significant component of the carbon cycle, but it is difficult to quantify and therefore largely ignored in climate models. Dierssen and colleagues have developed novel ocean color remote sensing techniques to assess benthic net primary production. Colors measured by satellite along the Great Bahama Bank were used to map bare sediment (turquoise), the dominant habitat, as well as distributions and productivity of seagrass and benthic algae across the Bank (green). Calcium carbonate dissolution processes associated with decomposing seagrass leaves transfer large amounts of carbon into the oceanic bicarbonate pool, where it has a residence time in the order of tens of thousands of years.


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