Happy Holidays from the IOCCG

The Chairman and IOCCG Committee Members extend their best wishes to the ocean-colour community over the festive season.


IOCCG-15 Meeting

INPE (National Institute for Space Research, Brazil) will host the 15th IOCCG Committee meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 18-20 January 2010. The meeting will be chaired by the new incoming IOCCG Chairman, Dr. David Antoine, from the Marine Optics and Remote Sensing Lab (Laboratoire d'Océanographie de Villefranche, France). David will take over the reins from Prof. James Yoder (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) who will serve on the IOCCG Committee as Past Chair for the next 3 years. We warmly welcome David onboard the Executive Committee, and extend our heartfelt thanks to Prof. Yoder for skillfully guiding the IOCCG Committee over the past three years. Topics to be addressed at the meeting include prioritizing the objectives in the Implementation Plan of the Ocean Colour Radiometry-Virtual Constellation (OCR-VC), reviewing the status of the IOCCG scientific working groups, and addressing proposals for new working groups and capacity building initiatives.

New Level-1 Requirements Working Group

A new working group on Level-1 Requirements for Ocean Colour Remote Sensing was recently established by the IOCCG to help develop a consensus for the minimum requirements for ocean-colour sensors that meet a broad range of user needs. The working group will also identify options to sustain long-term, global, climate quality, ocean-colour radiometry (OCR) time series from space. The group will be co-chaired by Drs. Charles McClain, Gerhard Meister and Paula Bontempi from NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and will be assisted by representatives from various space agencies with an interest in ocean colour. Further details can be found on the working group web page which will be updated as the group's activities progress.

IOCCG Report 8 Published

The SAFARI Project (Societal Applications in Fisheries and Aquaculture using Remotely-Sensed Imagery) has completed their report entitled "Remote Sensing in Fisheries and Aquaculture", which was recently published by the IOCCG (IOCCG Report 8). SAFARI is an initiative conceived under the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) as an aid to fulfillment of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), specifically its Fisheries and Aquaculture Task AG-06-02. The SAFARI initiative, funded primarily by the Canadian Space Agency with additional support from the IOCCG, GEO and Dept. of Fisheries & Oceans (Canada), will also host an international symposium on Remote Sensing & Fisheries in Kochi, India from 15-17 February 2010, along with a short training course.

IOCCG Report 8 will be mailed to all subscribers on the IOCCG mailing list (via surface mail) so recipients should receive a copy within the next few months. In the meantime, a PDF version of the report can be downloaded from the Publications & Reports section of the IOCCG web site. An accompanying brochure on this topic will be mailed together with the report.

Training Course in Zanzibar

Group Photo
Participants at the JRC training course in Zanzibar
(Click on image for larger view)

The Joint Research Centre (EC), in conjunction with the Institute of Marine Sciences, University of Dar-es-Salaam (Tanzania), conducted a very successful training course on "Methods and Applications of Ocean Colour Remote Sensing in African Coastal and Regional Seas" in Zanzibar from 12 - 23 October 2009. The training course was co-sponsored by several organizations, including the IOCCG, and was attended by 18 participants from 10 different African countries. For further details on the training course, see the course synopsis and course report

First Geostationary Ocean-Colour Sensor


South Korea will soon launch the first ocean-colour instrument into a geostationary orbit onboard the Communications, Oceanography and Meteorology Satellite (COMS - click on image for larger view). On 8 November 2009, Minister Byong Manthe Ahn (Ministry of Education, Science and Technology) announced that the launch schedule of COMS had been confirmed. COMS was developed by KARI, ETRI, KORDI, METR and France's Astrium. The final assembly process is finished and the space environment tests, such as the thermal-vacuum tests, have been successfully completed. COMS will be shipped to Toulouse, France for final performance tests at Astrium, and will be launched from the French spaceport near Kourou in French Guiana in South America, in spring 2010.

COMS will be placed in geostationary orbit 36,000 km above the Earth and will carry three payloads including the Geostationary Ocean Colour Imager (GOCI). The mission is expected to operate for 7 years, focussing on waters around the Korean Peninsula. Observing the Earth from a geostationary orbit will provide high revisit capabilities with the possibility of following episodic events at the scale of hours (e.g. red tides, dissemination of sediments). Other potential applications include examining the daily cycle of ocean properties (e.g. aerosols) and eliminating the effect of clouds from ocean-colour measurements.

First HICO Images

HICO image
HICO image collected on 25 September 2009 off the coast of Hong Kong
(Click on image for larger view).

The Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean (HICO), sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (USA), was successfully delivered to the International Space Station by JAXA’s unmanned HTV transportation vehicle on 18 September 2009. HICO is the first spaceborne imaging spectrometer designed specifically to sample the coastal ocean at a spatial resolution of ~90 m, and will demonstrate coastal products including water clarity, bottom type, bathymetry and on-shore vegetation maps. HICO is currently in the on-orbit calibration and data checkout phase. One of the first HICO images was collected on 25 September 2009 over the waters off Hong Kong, and demonstrated excellent image quality (see image above). For further information on the HICO mission please see the summary report or contact Curtiss Davis, Tel: 541-737-5707, Email:

India's OCM-2 Relays Imagery

OCM-2 Chl image

India's Oceansat-2 satellite, successfully launched on 23 September 2009 from spaceport Sriharikota, has begun beaming data back to Earth. The three scientific payloads include the Ocean Colour Monitor (OCM-2), a Scatterometer and a Radio Occultation Sounder for atmospheric studies. All the sensors have been turned on and are providing good quality data, including images. A selection of first day images from OCM-2 collected on 24 September 2009 is available here and on the ISRO website. An image collected over the Amazon Delta on 1 October 2009 is also available.

The OCM-2 instrument has a 360-m spatial resolution and will provide information on chlorophyll concentration for locating potential fishing zones (PFZs), monitoring harmful algae and studying global carbon cycles. Oceansat-2 will provide service continuity for the applications of Oceansat-1 (launched in 1999), which is still in orbit. Data from all instruments will be made available to the global scientific community after the post-launch sensor characterization, which is expected to be completed within 6 months of the launch. For further information on the mission, see the article entitled "Ocean Colour Monitor (OCM) onboard OCEANSAT-2 mission" by Drs. Prakash Chauhan and Rangnath Navalgund.

NASA Signs Agreement With ISRO for Oceansat-2 Data

NASA and NOAA recently signed an agreement with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to use data from the Indian Oceansat-2 satellite. The signing ceremony was carried out in Washington on the sidelines of Sixth Plenary Session of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), by representatives from NASA, NOAA and ISRO. The Letter of Intent signed under the overall Joint Civil Space Cooperation agreement, promotes opportunity for receiving Oceansat-2 data by various US agencies for research, education and activities of public good. The joint activities would include calibration, validation, algorithm development, scientific investigations and operational applications.

News from ESA

MERIS 3rd Reprocessing

The third reprocessing of the entire MERIS archive with the latest generation of science algorithms is in progress. The Level-1B reprocessing will be completed in December 2009 and will include an updated and improved radiometric calibration model. The configuration for the Level-2 reprocessing is currently under validation. This reprocessing will provide a number of changes and improvements with respect to the current version, including:

  • vicarious adjustment to sea-truth data for the visible channels following the NIR adjustment over oligotrophic and stable sites
  • improved cloud detection algorithms exploiting the O2 channels
  • revised chlorophyll algorithm based on the OC4Me algorithm
  • refined smile correction above water
  • improved atmospheric correction over bright water pixels.
The target date for completing the Level-2 reprocessing is early summer 2010.

Sentinel Data Policy Principles

ESA Member States recently approved the new principles for the Sentinel Data Policy, which establishes full and open access to data acquired by the upcoming Sentinel missions. The Sentinels are being developed by ESA specifically for the operational needs of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme (GMES). Sentinel-3 will be an operational mission for oceanography and global land applications and will provide continuity to the Envisat mission, delivering high quality ocean-colour data via the Ocean and Land Color Instrument (OLCI). The new data policy ensures free-of-charge access to all Sentinel data as well as the products generated via the Internet to anyone interested in using them, mainly for GMES data use but also for scientific and commercial use.

The policy continues the international trend for full and open access to EO data, in line with the intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations (GEO) data sharing principles. Furthermore, it responds directly to the increasing demand of EO data in the context of climate change initiatives and in support for the implementation of environmental policies. For further information see the announcement on the ESA News

New References

Several new references have been added to the IOCCG Recent References list, including a paper by Elodie Martinez, David Antoine, Fabrizio D’Ortenzio and Bernard Gentili entitled "Climate-Driven Basin-Scale Decadal Oscillations of Oceanic Phytoplankton" which recently appeared in Science, 326 (2009). The authors showed that multi-decadal changes in global phytoplankton abundances are related to basin-scale oscillations of the physical ocean, specifically the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. These oscillations can alternately weaken or emphasize the possible effects of global warming, making difficult the identification of trends over shorter time series (e.g. 10 years). The authors attributed the interaction between the main pycnocline and the upper ocean seasonal mixed layer as one mechanism behind the observed correlation.

The study used ~20 years of satellite observations of chlorophyll concentration (CZCS and SeaWiFS) and sea surface temperature data. It can be anticipated that averaging data over several decades may eventually reveal longer-term trends related to subtle changes in physical forcing. This emphasizes the critical importance of reanalyzing historical data sets and of continuing the construction of climate-quality satellite data records in the next decades. Their findings provide a context for the interpretation of contemporary changes in global phytoplankton and should improve predictions of their future evolution with climate change.

Material for possible inclusion in the IOCCG Newsletter should be submitted to the Project Scientist, Dr. Venetia Stuart
(Email:, replace "-at-" with "@").

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