Mapping primary production

Using satellite ocean colour chlorophyll and radiance data, accurate maps of primary production have been developed, which provide spatially and temporally resolved global and regional estimates of primary production.

These satellite measurements are validated by measurements taken on-board the AMT cruises. Here primary production is determined by the uptake of radioactive carbon (14C) at over 100 stations in the Atlantic Ocean during each AMT cruise, and the data is then used to validate primary production satellite algorithms of varying complexity.

Recent regional trends in primary production in the Atlantic derived from satellites show that with increasing sea surface temperature there is a reduction in primary production in the northern hemisphere, suggesting a negative feedback on carbon capture in relation to global warming (Tilstone et al., 2009)



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Related Information

Tilstone GH, Smyth TJ, Poulton A, Hutson R. (2009). Measured and remotely sensed estimates of primary production in the Atlantic Ocean from 1998 to 2005. Deep Sea-Research II, 56(15): 918-930. doi:10.1016/j. dsr2.2008.10.034.


Dr Gavin Tilstone

Dr Gavin Tilstone

Specialising in bio-optical oceanography and remote sensing at Plymouth Marine Laboratory.

My research interests include: bio-optical modelling, phytoplankton optical properties, phytoplankton photo-physiological properties, particulate and dissolved optical properties, quality assured in situ measurements, phytoplankton production models and validation of satellite products.

I am also the Principal Investigator on the AMT4SentinelFRM project which works to validate measurements from the Copernicus Sentinel satellites using Fiducial Reference Measurements taken on-board the AMT cruise.