IOCCG-15 Meeting

The 15th IOCCG Committee meeting took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 18-20 January 2010 and was hosted by INPE (National Institute for Space Research, Brazil), which is gratefully acknowledged. The Committee reviewed the status of the current IOCCG working groups as well as proposals for three new IOCCG working groups: i) Ocean Colour Remote Sensing for Studying and Monitoring the Arctic Ocean (proposed by Marcel Babin), ii) Uncertainties in Ocean-Colour Remote Sensing (proposed by Roland Doerffer) and iii) A Joint GEOHAB/IOCCG working group on Harmful Algal Blooms (proposed by Stewart Bernard). All three working group proposals were provisionally accepted, with some modifications. Formal Guidelines for Proposing New IOCCG Working Groups are now available on the IOCCG website.

Group Photo
Participants at the IOCCG-15 Committee meeting, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
(Click on image for larger view)

Agency contributions to the CEOS ocean-colour radiometry-virtual constellation (OCR-VC) were also reviewed and two tasks were prioritized: (i) the formation of an international SIMBIOS-like programme at the inter-agency level to promote cross-calibration of instruments as well as product and algorithm validation, and (ii) implementation of the "ocean colour" Essential Climate Variable (ECV) and production of climate quality data records (CQDRs). The Level-1 Requirements working group will provide more precise requirements for radiometric accuracy, and will hold their first working group meeting on 20-21 April 2010 (Bethesda, Maryland, USA). The full minutes of the 15thIOCCG Committee meeting are now available on the IOCCG website at:

Activities of the IOCCG are supported by a number of agencies and organisations (see list of IOCCG sponsors). The IOCCG Committee is pleased to welcome a new sponsor, the National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO), United Kingdom, represented by Shubha Sathyendranath. NCEO is a partnership of scientists and institutions from a range of disciplines, who are using data from Earth observation satellites to monitor global and regional changes in the environment. NCEO is built around seven science themes: the carbon cycle theme contains the ocean-colour component.

New IOCCG Scientific Members

New IOCCG Committee members Steven Greb (freshwater community), Stephanie Dutkiewicz (modelling community), Dmitry Pozdnyakov (Russia) and Joji Ishizaka (Japan).

Two scientific representatives rotated off the Committee at the end of the IOCCG-15 meeting: Samantha Lavender, representing the UK and Curtiss Davis representing USA. The IOCCG Committee would like to thank them both for their valuable contributions over the past few years. Four new scientific representatives have been appointed to the IOCCG Committee and are warmly welcomed: Steven Greb (representing the freshwater community), Stephanie Dutkiewicz (representing the modelling community), Dmitry Pozdnyakov (representing Russia) and Joji Ishizaka (serving a second term, representing Japan).

IOCCG Report 9 Published

The Global Ecological Provinces working group has completed their report entitled "Partition of the Ocean into Ecological Provinces: Role of Ocean-Colour Radiometry", edited by Mark Dowell and Trevor Platt. A classification of the oceans into provinces provides a useful framework for understanding the mechanisms controlling biological, physical and chemical processes operating therein and the interactions between them. IOCCG Report 9 is currently being printed by the Joint Research Centre (JRC, EU), which is gratefully acknowledged. Hard copies of the report will be mailed from Italy to all subscribers on the IOCCG mailing list (via surface mail), so it may take a few months before delivery. In the meantime, a PDF version of the report can be downloaded from the Publications & Reports section of the IOCCG web site.

SAFARI Symposium and Training Course

Dr. Kenneth Sherman giving a presentation on "The application of satellite remote sensing for assessing productivity and fisheries yields of the world's Large Marine Ecosystems"

The SAFARI initiative hosted an international symposium on "Remote Sensing and Fisheries" in Kochi, India from 15-17 February 2010. The Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (CIFT) did an excellent job organizing a culturally-rich scientific meeting, which attracted a large number of international and local sponsors which are gratefully acknowledged. The symposium was attended by 157 people from 30 countries, including seven prominent keynote speakers (Drs. Emmanuel Chassot, Simon Jennings, Shailesh Nayak, Jeffrey Polovina, Sei-Ichi Saitoh, Kenneth Sherman and Cara Wilson).

Themes addressed during the symposium included applications of remote sensing to fish harvesting, ecosystem-based management of fisheries, harmful algal blooms, fisheries models, implications of climate variability on fisheries, and management of coastal zones and fisheries. Selected articles from the symposium will be published in the March 2011 issue of the ICES Journal of Marine Science. A summary report of the symposium will be placed on the symposium website shortly.

Prior to the symposium a 3-day training workshop was conducted at the National Institute of Oceanography in Kochi, to address a number of topics related to remote sensing of ocean colour, including an introduction to marine optics, remote sensing in support of fisheries, and phytoplankton pigments and absorption coefficient. The training workshop was attended by 55 participants from 16 countries, and was sponsored by a number of organizations, including the IOCCG. A two-day ChloroGIN meeting took place after the symposium, where a workplan for the next phase of ChloroGIN was drawn up, with an emphaisis on the in situ component. In addition, the group provided recommendations for a full proposal to be submitted to GEO for capacity building.

MODIS-Aqua Reprocessing

MODIS-Aqua reprocessing of Level-1 and Level-2 files is currently underway. All new MODIS-Aqua products generated by the Ocean Biology Processing Group (OBPG) and distributed through NASA's Ocean Color Web will reflect the format and content changes outlined at:

In addition, the major changes and the improved results to be expected from the reprocessing can be viewed in a presentation given by Bryan Franz at the recent MODIS Science Team meeting:

PARASOL Moves Off the A-Train

CNES's PARASOL satellite is going on another orbit track after nearly 5 years of concurrent operations with the "Afternoon Constellation", known as the "A-Train". PARASOL's main objectives are to characterize cloud and aerosol properties, but it has also been used for ocean colour studies. The A-Train satellite formation includes a number of NASA satellites that orbit the Earth one behind the other on the same track, including MODIS-Aqua. Each of these satellites cross the equator within a few minutes of each another at around 1:30 p.m. local time. By combining the different sets of nearly simultaneous observations, scientists are able to gain a better understanding of the important parameters related to climate change. PARASOL was maneuvered to gradually leave its position inside the A-Train on 2 December 2009, in order to minimize the risk of collision with other A-train satellites as a result of insufficient fuel supply. It is expected to be completely out of the A-train neighbourhood by the end of 2012. PARASOL was originally designed to be a 2-year mission, but French scientists are currently writing a proposal to extend the PARASOL mission (on its new lower orbit) beyond 2010.

NPOESS Restructuring

The United States Government has decided to restructure the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) in order to put this critical program on a more sustainable pathway. The nation’s system of polar-orbiting environmental satellites is essential for supporting climate research as well as operational weather and storm forecasting for civil, military, and international partners. Over the past few years, the NPOESS program has experienced several challenges, including schedule delays and cost over-runs. In the restructured program NOAA and NASA will take primary responsibility for the afternoon orbit, which is most important for weather and climate forecasting, while the Department of Defense (DOD) will take primary responsibility for the early morning orbit, which is most important for military needs. NOAA’s portion will notionally be named the "Joint Polar Satellite System" (JPSS) and will consist of platforms based on the NPP satellite, which now has a scheduled launch date of September 2011. A key instrument, the Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), has been tested and shipped from the developers to NPP and can now be integrated onto the spacecraft. NASA’s role in the restructured program will be modelled after the procurement structure of the successful POES and GOES programs, where NASA and NOAA have a long and effective partnership. Work is proceeding rapidly with NOAA to establish a JPSS program at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC).

Lucinda Jetty Coastal Observatory

The Lucinda Jetty Coastal Observatory (LJCO) is located on the end of the 5.8 km long Lucinda Jetty (18.52 S, 146.39 E) in the coastal waters of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (Australia), close to the Herbert River Estuary and the Hinchinbrook Channel. LJCO focuses on providing quantitative in situ data to ensure valid remotely-sensed satellite information over optically complex and variable tropical coastal waters (including atmospheric characterisation). LJCO will contribute to cal-val activities of coastal-ocean colour radiometric and biogeochemical products for current and forthcoming missions. Two different data streams are acquired: above water measurements of the water leaving radiance, and in-water measurements of the optical properties. All instruments were installed on site on 28 October 2009 and are currently undergoing the commissioning phase. More details on the instrument setup can be found at


Once operational, near-real-time data will be distributed to the community via the IMOS Ocean Portal []. Radiometry data (SeaPRISM) is already available on NASA's AERONET-OC website. LJCO is a Facility of the Integrated Marine Observing System, an Australian Government initiative. For further information please contact Dr. Vittorio Brando (

New References

Several new references have been added to the IOCCG Recent References list, including a paper by Samuel Djavidnia, Frédéric Mélin, and Nicolas Hoepffner entitled "Comparison of global ocean colour data records" which recently appeared in Ocean Science, 6 (2010). The paper presents an extensive comparative analysis of standard products obtained from operational global ocean colour sensors (SeaWiFS, MERIS, MODIS-Aqua, MODIS-Terra), on both global and regional scales. The analysis is based on monthly mean surface chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) concentrations between 2002 and 2009.

The major conclusion of this work is that the large scale monthly Chl-a time series produced by the three major multi-annual global ocean colour missions are relatively consistent, with average root mean square (RMS) differences (in log space) of 0.137 for the pair SeaWiFS/MODIS-Aqua, and approximately 0.15 between these sensors and MERIS. The global Chl-a frequency distributions provided by the three products are also remarkably alike. However this global convergence appears significantly modulated on a regional basis. Statistics for biogeographic provinces representing a partition of the global ocean as proposed by Longhurst, show RMS values varying between 0.08 and 0.3. High latitude regions, as well as coastal and shelf provinces are generally the areas with the largest differences. Moreover, RMS differences and biases are modulated in time, with a coefficient of variation of RMS varying between 10% and 40%, with clear seasonal patterns in some provinces.

An important outcome of this study is that the results of the analysis are variable with time and location, and therefore globally-averaged statistics are not necessarily applicable on a seasonal or regional basis. These biases need to be carefully investigated when addressing the creation of long-term seamless data records based upon overlapping satellite missions, and can provide a general insight into the levels of uncertainties that can be expected for the ocean colour record as a whole.

Employment Opportunities

Several new positions have been added to the Employment Opportunities section of the IOCCG website, including a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Maine, a Scientific Programmer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Federal University of Rio Grande, Brazil as well as two marine research positions at the Management Unit for the Mathematical Model of the North Sea (MUMM, Belgium).

Upcoming Symposia

A number of important symposia are coming up in various parts of the World: Climate Change Effects on Fish and Fisheries (26-29 April 2010, Sendai, Japan), Oceans from Space (26-30 April, 2010, Venice, Italy), ESA’s Living Planet Symposium (28 June–2 July 2010, Bergen, Norway), a special session on Optical Remote Sensing of Aquatic Ecosystems, at the Australian Marine Sciences Association Conference (4-8 July 2010,Wollongong, Australia) and Global Change and the Environment in Asia and Pacific (28-29 October 2010, Hong Kong).

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