An algorithm for detecting Trichodesmium surface blooms in the South Western Tropical Pacific

Abstract : Trichodesmium, a major colonial cyanobacterial nitrogen fixer, forms large blooms in NO3-depleted tropical oceans and enhances CO2 sequestration by the ocean due to its ability to fix dissolved dinitrogen. Thus, its importance in C and N cycles requires better estimates of its distribution at basin to global scales. However, existing algorithms to detect them from satellite have not yet been successful in the South Western Tropical Pacific (SWTP). Here, a novel approach based on radiance anomaly spectra (RAS) observed in SeaWiFS imagery is used to detect Trichodesmium during the austral summertime in the SWTP. Selected pixels are characterized by a restricted range of parameters quantifying RAS spectra quantitative parameters (e.g. slope, intercept, curvature). The fraction of valid pixels identified as Trichodesmium surface blooms in the region 5°S-25°S 160°E-190°E is low (between 0.01 and 0.2%), but is about 100 times higher than suggested by previous algorithms. This represents a total surface area which varies from 1500 to 20000 km2. A monthly distribution of Trichodesmium surface accumulations in the SWTP is presented which demonstrates that the number of selected pixels peaks in November-February each year, consistent with field observations. This approach was validated with in situ observations of Trichodesmium surface accumulations for the period 1998-2010.
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Cecile Dupouy, D. Benielli-Gary, Jacques Neveux, Yves Dandonneau, T. K. Westberry. An algorithm for detecting Trichodesmium surface blooms in the South Western Tropical Pacific. Biogeosciences, European Geosciences Union, 2011, 8, pp.3631-3647. ⟨10.5194/bg-8-3631-2011⟩. ⟨hal-00875926⟩



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