MEPS 504:73-89 (2014)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10751

Absorption-based algorithm of primary production for total and size-fractionated phytoplankton in coastal waters

Morvan K. Barnes1,5, Gavin H. Tilstone1,*, Timothy J. Smyth1, David J. Suggett2,7, Rosa Astoreca3,6, Christiane Lancelot3, Jacco C. Kromkamp4

1Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Prospect Place, West Hoe, Plymouth PL1 3DH, UK
2School of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, Colchester, Essex CO4 3SQ, UK
3Université Libre de Bruxelles, Ecologie des Systèmes Aquatiques, CP 221, Bd du Triomphe, 1050 Brussels, Belgium
4Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, PO box 140, 4400 AC Yerseke, The Netherlands
5Present address: CNRS, Laboratoire d’Océanographie de Villefranche, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris 6), Villefranche-sur-Mer 06238, France
6Present address: Université Libre de Bruxelles, Service de Chimie Quantique et Photophysique, CP 160/09,
50 avenue F.D. Roosevelt, 1050 Brussels, Belgium
7Present address: Climate Change Research Cluster, University of Technology Sydney, PO Box 123, Broadway, Sydney, New South Wales 2007, Australia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Most satellite models of production have been designed and calibrated for use in the open ocean. Coastal waters are optically more complex, and the use of chlorophyll a (chl a) as a first-order predictor of primary production may lead to substantial errors due to significant quantities of coloured dissolved organic matter (CDOM) and total suspended material (TSM) within the first optical depth. We demonstrate the use of phytoplankton absorption as a proxy to estimate primary production in the coastal waters of the North Sea and Western English Channel for both total, micro- and nano+pico-phytoplankton production. The method is implemented to extrapolate the absorption coefficient of phytoplankton and production at the sea surface to depth to give integrated fields of total and micro- and nano+pico-phytoplankton primary production using the peak in absorption coefficient at red wavelengths. The model is accurate to 8% in the Western English Channel and 22% in this region and the North Sea. By comparison, the accuracy of similar chl a based production models was >250%. The applicability of the method to autonomous optical sensors and remotely sensed aircraft data in both coastal and estuarine environments is discussed.


KEY WORDS: Absorption · Micro-phytoplankton · Nano-phytoplankton · North Sea · Primary production · Western English Channel


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Cite this article as: Barnes MK, Tilstone GH, Smyth TJ, Suggett DJ, Astoreca R, Lancelot C, Kromkamp JC (2014) Absorption-based algorithm of primary production for total and size-fractionated phytoplankton in coastal waters. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 504:73-89. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10751

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