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Review ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Mar. Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fmars.2019.00485

Satellite Ocean Colour: current status and future perspective

  • 1Plymouth Marine Laboratory, United Kingdom
  • 2National Centre for Earth Observation, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, United Kingdom
  • 3State Key Laboratory of Satellite Ocean Environment Dynamics (SOED), China
  • 4Centre for High Performance Computing, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), South Africa
  • 5faculdade de Ciências Farmacêuticas, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal
  • 6Brockmann Consult (Germany), Germany
  • 7Indian Institute of Remote Sensing, India
  • 8European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications (ECSAT), United Kingdom
  • 9European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC), Netherlands
  • 10Ocean Ecology Laboratory, Goddard Space Flight Center, United States
  • 11Graduate School of Environmental Science, Hokkaido University, Japan
  • 12National Institute of Space Research (INPE), Brazil
  • 13Helmholtz Centre for Materials and Coastal Research (HZG), Germany
  • 14Pixalytics Ltd, United Kingdom
  • 15European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC), Italy
  • 16Institute of Atmospheric and Climate Sciences, National Research Council, Italy
  • 17United States Environmental Protection Agency, United States
  • 18Hygeos, France
  • 19Marine Ecosystems & Climate Branch, Center for Satellite Applications and Research (STAR), United States

Spectrally-resolved water-leaving radiances (ocean colour) and inferred chlorophyll concentration are key to studying phytoplankton dynamics at seasonal and inter-annual scales, for a better understanding of the role of phytoplankton in marine biogeochemistry; the global carbon cycle; and the response of marine ecosystems to climate variability, change and feedback processes. Ocean colour data also have a critical role in operational observation systems monitoring coastal eutrophication, harmful algal blooms, and sediment plumes.
The contiguous ocean-colour record reached 21 years in 2018; however, it is comprised of a number of one-off missions such that creating a consistent time-series of ocean-colour data requires merging of the individual sensors (including MERIS, Aqua-MODIS, SeaWiFS, VIIRS and OLCI) with differing sensor characteristics, without introducing artefacts. By contrast, the next decade will see consistent observations from operational ocean colour series with sensors of similar design and with a replacement strategy. Also, by 2029 the record will start to be of sufficient duration to discriminate climate change impacts from natural variability, at least in some regions.
This paper describes current status and future prospects in the field of ocean colour focussing on large to medium resolution observations of oceans and coastal seas. It reviews the user requirements in terms of products and uncertainty characteristics and then describes features of current and future satellite ocean-colour sensors, both operational and innovative. The key role of in situ validation and calibration is highlighted as are ground segments that process the data received from the ocean-colour sensors and deliver analysis-ready products to end-users. Example applications of the ocean-colour data are presented, focussing on the climate data record and operational applications including water quality and assimilation into numerical models. Current capacity building and training activities pertinent to ocean are described and finally a summary of future perspectives is provided.

Keywords: ocean colour, Phytoplankton, Ground-segment, Climate data record (CDR), Water Quality, Capacity Building

Received: 05 Dec 2018; Accepted: 18 Jul 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Groom, Sathyendranath, Ban, Bernard, Brewin, Brotas, Brockmann, Chauhan, Choi, Chuprin, Ciavatta, Cipollini, Donlon, Franz, He, Hirata, Jackson, Kampel, Krasemann, Lavender, Pardo-Martinez, MELIN, Platt, Santoleri, Skakala, Schaeffer, Smith, Steinmetz, Valente and Wang. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mr. Steve B. Groom, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Plymouth, United Kingdom, sbg@pml.ac.uk