Articles | Volume 7, issue 5
Research article
31 Oct 2011
Research article |  | 31 Oct 2011

Annual cycles of chlorophyll-a, non-algal suspended particulate matter, and turbidity observed from space and in-situ in coastal waters

F. Gohin

Abstract. Sea surface temperature, chlorophyll, and turbidity are three variables of the coastal environment commonly measured by monitoring networks. The observation networks are often based on coastal stations, which do not provide a sufficient coverage to validate the model outputs or to be used in assimilation over the continental shelf. Conversely, the products derived from satellite reflectance generally show a decreasing quality shoreward, and an assessment of the limitation of these data is required. The annual cycle, mean, and percentile 90 of the chlorophyll concentration derived from MERIS/ESA and MODIS/NASA data processed with a dedicated algorithm have been compared to in-situ observations at twenty-six selected stations from the Mediterranean Sea to the North Sea. Keeping in mind the validation, the forcing, or the assimilation in hydrological, sediment-transport, or ecological models, the non-algal Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) is also a parameter which is expected from the satellite imagery. However, the monitoring networks measure essentially the turbidity and a consistency between chlorophyll, representative of the phytoplankton biomass, non-algal SPM, and turbidity is required. In this study, we derive the satellite turbidity from chlorophyll and non-algal SPM with a common formula applied to in-situ or satellite observations. The distribution of the satellite-derived turbidity exhibits the same main statistical characteristics as those measured in-situ, which satisfies the first condition to monitor the long-term changes or the large-scale spatial variation over the continental shelf and along the shore. For the first time, climatologies of turbidity, so useful for mapping the environment of the benthic habitats, are proposed from space on areas as different as the southern North Sea or the western Mediterranean Sea, with validation at coastal stations.