Articles | Volume 7, issue 2
Research article
28 Mar 2011
Research article |  | 28 Mar 2011

Multifractal analysis of oceanic chlorophyll maps remotely sensed from space

L. de Montera, M. Jouini, S. Verrier, S. Thiria, and M. Crepon

Abstract. Phytoplankton patchiness has been investigated with multifractal analysis techniques. We analyzed oceanic chlorophyll maps, measured by the SeaWiFS orbiting sensor, which are considered to be good proxies for phytoplankton. The study area is the Senegalo-Mauritanian upwelling region, because it has a low cloud cover and high chlorophyll concentrations. Multifractal properties are observed, from the sub-mesoscale up to the mesoscale, and are found to be consistent with the Corssin-Obukhov scale law of passive scalars. This result indicates that, in this specific region and within this scale range, turbulent mixing would be the dominant effect leading to the observed variability of phytoplankton fields. Finally, it is shown that multifractal patchiness can be responsible for significant biases in the nonlinear source and sink terms involved in biogeochemical numerical models.