Southern California Coastal Water Research Project Authority (SCCWRP)

Remotely sensed seasonal dynamics of phytoplankton in the Ligurian Sea in 1997–1999


Remotely sensed data and a one-dimensional hydrophysical model were used to study the seasonal dynamics of surface plant pigments concentration in the Ligurian-Provençal basin. The variations of phytoplankton biomass were estimated from the observations of the Coastal Zone Color Scanner (1978–1986) and Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) (September 1997 to October 1999) radiometers. The factors of physical environment analyzed included remotely sensed sea surface temperature (from advanced very high resolution radiometers), wind, air temperature, and atmospheric precipitation. The Geohydrodynamics and Environment Research (GHER) model was used to explain the observed correlations between the physical forcing and the response of phytoplankton biomass. The general pattern of phytoplankton seasonal dynamics was typical to subtropical areas: maximum biomass during cold season from October to April and low biomass during summer months. The intensity of winter/spring bloom significantly varied during different years. The correlation was revealed between the summer/autumn air temperature contrast (expressed as the difference between the air temperatures in August and in November) and the maximum monthly averaged surface chlorophyll concentration during the subsequent winter/spring bloom.

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