Improvement to the PhytoDOAS method for identification of coccolithophores using hyper-spectral satellite data
Abstract. The goal of this study was to improve PhytoDOAS, which is a new retrieval method for quantitative identification of major phytoplankton functional types (PFTs) using hyper-spectral satellite data. PhytoDOAS is an extension of the Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy (DOAS, a method for detection of atmospheric trace gases), developed for remote identification of oceanic phytoplankton groups. Thus far, PhytoDOAS has been successfully exploited to identify cyanobacteria and diatoms over the global ocean from SCIAMACHY (SCanning Imaging Absorption spectroMeter for Atmospheric CHartographY) hyper-spectral data. This study aimed to improve PhytoDOAS for remote identification of coccolithophores, another functional group of phytoplankton. The main challenge for retrieving more PFTs by PhytoDOAS is to overcome the correlation effects between different PFT absorption spectra. Different PFTs are composed of different types and amounts of pigments, but also have pigments in common, e.g. chl a, causing correlation effects in the usual performance of the PhytoDOAS retrieval. Two ideas have been implemented to improve PhytoDOAS for the PFT retrieval of more phytoplankton groups. Firstly, using the fourth-derivative spectroscopy, the peak positions of the main pigment components in each absorption spectrum have been derived. After comparing the corresponding results of major PFTs, the optimized fit-window for the PhytoDOAS retrieval of each PFT was determined. Secondly, based on the results from derivative spectroscopy, a simultaneous fit of PhytoDOAS has been proposed and tested for a selected set of PFTs (coccolithophores, diatoms and dinoflagellates) within an optimized fit-window, proven by spectral orthogonality tests. The method was then applied to the processing of SCIAMACHY data over the year 2005. Comparisons of the PhytoDOAS coccolithophore retrievals in 2005 with other coccolithophore-related data showed similar patterns in their seasonal distributions, especially in the North Atlantic and the Arctic Sea. The seasonal patterns of the PhytoDOAS coccolithophores indicated very good agreement with the coccolithophore modeled data from the NASA Ocean Biochemical Model (NOBM), as well as with the global distributions of particulate inorganic carbon (PIC), provided by MODIS (MODerate resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer)-Aqua level-3 products. Moreover, regarding the fact that coccolithophores belong to the group of haptophytes, the PhytoDOAS seasonal coccolithophores showed good agreement with the global distribution of haptophytes, derived from synoptic pigment relationships applied to SeaWiFS chl a. As a case study, the simultaneous mode of PhytoDOAS has been applied to SCIAMACHY data for detecting a coccolithophore bloom which was consistent with the MODIS RGB image and the MODIS PIC map of the bloom, indicating the functionality of the method also in short-term retrievals.