Data needs for hyperspectral detection of algal bloom diversity across the globe.

Astrid.Bracher [ at ]


A group of 38 experts specializing in hyperspectral remote-sensing methods for aquatic ecosystems attended an interactive Euromarine Foresight Workshop at the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) in Ostend, Belgium, June 4–6, 2019. The objective of this workshop was to develop recommendations for comprehensive, efficient, and effective laboratory and field programs to supply data for development of algorithms and validation of hyperspectral satellite imagery for micro-, macro- and endosymbiotic algal characterization across the globe. The international group of researchers from Europe, Asia, Australia, and North and South America (see online Supplementary Materials) tackled how to develop global databases that merge hyperspectral optics and phytoplankton group composition to support the next generation of hyperspectral satellites for assessing biodiversity in the ocean and in food webs and for detecting water quality issues such as harmful algal blooms. Through stimulating discussions in breakout groups, the team formulated a host of diverse programmatic recommendations on topics such as how to better integrate optics into phytoplankton monitoring programs; approaches to validating phytoplankton composition with ocean color measurements and satellite imagery; new database specifications that match optical data with phytoplankton composition data; requirements for new instrumentation that can be implemented on floats, moorings, drones, and other platforms; and the development of international task forces. Because in situ observations of phytoplankton biogeography and abundance are scarce, and many vast oceanic regions are too remote to be routinely monitored, satellite observations are required to fully comprehend the diversity of micro-, macro-, and endosymbiotic algae and any variability due to climate change. Ocean color remote sensing that provides regular synoptic monitoring of aquatic ecosystems is an excellent tool for assessing biodiversity and abundance of phytoplankton and algae in aquatic ecosystems. However, neither the spatial, temporal, nor spectral resolution of the current ocean color missions are sufficient to characterize phytoplankton community composition adequately. The near-daily overpasses from ocean color satellites are useful for detecting the presence of blooms, but the spatial resolution is often too coarse to assess the patchy distribution of blooms, and the multiband spectral resolution is generally insufficient to identify different types of phytoplankton from each other, even if progress has undeniably been achieved during the last two decades (e.g., IOCGG, 2014). Moreover, the methods developed for multichannel sensor use are often highly tuned to a region but are inaccurate when applied broadly. New orbital imaging spectrometers are being developed that cover the full visible and near-infrared spectrum with a large number of narrow bands dubbed “hyperspectral” (e.g., TROPOMI, PRISMA, EnMAP, PACE, CHIME, SBG). Hyper-spectral methods have been explored for many years to assess phytoplankton groups and map seafloor habitats. However, the utility of hyperspectral imaging still needs to be demonstrated across diverse aquatic regimes. Aquatic applications of hyperspectral imagery have been limited by both the technology and the ability to validate products. Some of the past hyperspectral space-based sensors have suffered from calibration artifacts, low sensitivity in aquatic ecosystems (e.g., CHRIS, HICO), and very low spatial resolution (e.g., SCIAMACHY), but the next generation of sensors are planned to have high signal-to-noise ratio and improved performance over aquatic targets. Providing data to develop and validate hyperspectral approaches to characterize phytoplankton groups across the globe poses new challenges. Several recent studies have documented gaps that need to be filled in order to assess algal diversity across the globe (IOCCG, 2014; Mouw et al., 2015; Bracher et al., 2017), which promoted/inspired the formation of this workshop.

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ISI/Scopus peer-reviewed
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DOI 10.5670/oceanog.2020.111

Cite as
Dierssen, H. , Bracher, A. , Brando, V. , Loisel, H. and Ruddick, K. (2020): Data needs for hyperspectral detection of algal bloom diversity across the globe. , Oceanography, 33 (1), pp. 74-79 . doi: 10.5670/oceanog.2020.111


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