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Global remote sensing of Trichodesmium

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The maximum chlorophyll index (MCI) from the Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) satellite imager gives a robust indicator of the presence of a variety of floating slicks, near-surface vegetation, and intense surface plankton blooms. The index responds to the presence of surface slicks of Trichodesmium due to the ‘red edge’ increase in radiance with increasing wavelength near 700┬ánm. Global composite images of this index can be used to map the distribution of surface slicks of Trichodesmium, showing seasonal and long-term variations. The MCI also responds to the ‘red edge’ in the spectral signature of Sargassum. The two species share some areas of common occurrence and it is important to distinguish between them. We have developed spectral techniques of distinguishing between these two, and for discriminating a variety of other confusing targets that occur in different areas. We feel that MERIS MCI can be a useful tool in monitoring global Trichodesmium spatial distribution, and its short- and long-term variation.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Institute of Ocean Sciences, Sidney, BC, Canada 2: Sea This Consulting, Nanaimo, BC, Canada 3: Department of Geography, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada

Publication date: July 18, 2014

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