Analytical phytoplankton carbon measurements spanning diverse ecosystems

Graff, JR, Westberry, TK, Milligan, AJ, Brown, MB, Dall’Olmo, G, van Dongen-Vogels, V, Reifel, KM and Behrenfeld, MJ 2015 Analytical phytoplankton carbon measurements spanning diverse ecosystems. Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers, 102. 16-25.

Full text not available from this repository.
Official URL:


The measurement of phytoplankton carbon (Cphyto) in the field has been a long-sought but elusive goal in oceanography. Proxy measurements of Cphyto have been employed in the past, but are subject to many confounding influences that undermine their accuracy. Here we report the first directly measured Cphyto values from the open ocean. The Cphyto samples were collected from a diversity of environments, ranging from Pacific and Atlantic oligotrophic gyres to equatorial upwelling systems to temperate spring conditions. When compared to earlier proxies, direct measurements of Cphyto exhibit the strongest relationship with particulate backscattering coefficients (bbp) (R2=0.69). Chlorophyll concentration and total particulate organic carbon (POC) concentration accounted for ~20% less variability in Cphyto than bbp. Ratios of Cphyto to Chl a span an order of magnitude moving across and within distinct ecosystems. Similarly, Cphyto:POC ratios were variable with the lowest values coming from productive temperate waters and the highest from oligotrophic gyres. A strong relationship between Cphyto and bbp is particularly significant because bbp is a property retrievable from satellite ocean color measurements. Our results, therefore, are highly encouraging for the global monitoring of phytoplankton biomass from space. The continued application of our Cphyto measurement approach will enable validation of satellite retrievals and contribute to an improved understanding of environmental controls on phytoplankton biomass and physiology.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Additional Keywords: Phytoplankton carbon; Backscattering; Chlorophyll; Particulate organic carbon; Atlantic Meridional Transect; Satellite
Divisions: Plymouth Marine Laboratory > National Capability categories > National Centre for Earth Observation
Depositing User: Giorgio Dall'Olmo
Date made live: 30 Jun 2015 10:48
Last Modified: 22 Feb 2018 12:52

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item