The IOCCG Committee wishes to express heartfelt condolences to all our Japanese colleagues and their families affected by the tragic earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Our thoughts are with you all and we wish you courage in this challenging situation. We hope that things will stabilize soon and that Japan will recover quickly from this disaster.

IOCCG-16 Meeting

The 16th IOCCG Committee meeting took place at Dartington Hall, Devon, UK, from 15-17 February 2011 and was hosted by the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, which is gratefully acknowledged. International agencies with an interest in satellite ocean colour radiometry were well represented (NASA, ESA, JAXA, KORDI, CNES, NCEO, CSA, NOAA, ISRO, JRC, SIO), as well as scientists from various research institutes.

Group Photo
Participants at the IOCCG-16 Committee meeting, Devon, UK
(Click on image for larger view)

The Committee reviewed the status of the current IOCCG working groups, three of which are expected to complete their final reports this year: Bio-optical Sensors on Argo Floats, Ocean Colour from a Geostationary Orbit and Assessing Level 1 Requirements for Ocean Colour Remote Sensing. Proposals for two new IOCCG working groups were also evaluated: i) Ocean Colour Remote Sensing in Polar Seas (resubmission by Marcel Babin, Univ. Laval, Canada), and ii) Round Robin Intercomparison of Retrieval Algorithms for Coastal Waters (proposed by Kevin Ruddick, RBINS, Brussels). Both working group proposals were accepted, and the new working groups should start their activities shortly.

Agency contributions to the CEOS Ocean-Colour Radiometry-Virtual Constellation (OCR-VC) were also reviewed and two milestones were forseen: (i) the production of a White Paper on the INSITU-OCR by summer 2011 , and (ii) preliminary implementation strategy of the ocean colour "Essential Climate Variable". The full minutes of the 16thIOCCG Committee meeting will be available on the IOCCG website shortly.

News from NASA

The End of the SeaWiFS Era

On 15 February 2011 NASA reported that after nearly two months of intensive research and numerous attempts at communication with the GeoEye spacecraft, it was determined that the SeaWiFS mission was no longer recoverable. The SeaWiFS mission, launched in August 1997, has served the international scientific community extremely well over the past 13+ years, providing a wealth of data on the planet’s overall biological health, with unprecedented accuracy and stability. The IOCCG Committee would like to thank the entire team at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center for their contributions to this success story which has brought so much to the scientific community. SeaWiFS has certainly become the hallmark for ocean colour radiometry, to which all succeeding satellite sensors will be compared.

NASA's ACE/PACE Missions

NASA's Aerosols, Clouds and Ecosystems (ACE) mission will focus on clouds and aerosols as well as ocean ecosystems, to help answer emerging fundamental science questions associated with aerosols, clouds, air quality and global ocean ecosystems. Accurate estimation of the aerosol contribution to the backscatter radiation are required to make precise ocean biosphere measurements. Aerosol interference with ocean colour measurements has been a major limitation in past missions. The nominal core ACE payload will include lidar, radar and polarimeter instruments as well as an ocean colour spectrometer. The ACE science team is developing mission requirements - presentations on progress to date are now publicly available at: The scheduled launch date is around 2020 or later. The Pre-ACE mission (PACE) is NASA’s Plan for "Responding to the Challenge of Climate and Environmental Change" and is scheduled for launch 2018 or later. PACE will carry two instruments only: an ocean colour radiometer and a polarimeter.


NASA's Geostationary Coastal and Air Pollution Events (GEO-CAPE) mission will provide surface reflectance at high spectral, spatial and temporal resolutions from a geostationary orbit and will be used to study both coastal ocean biophysics as well as regional-scale air quality issues and their impact on global atmospheric composition processes. The data will also be used to address key water quality, ocean chemistry, ecological science questions in the coastal ocean and its response to climate or environmental variability and change. The mission will consist of three instruments on one spacecraft in geostationary orbit: (1) UV-Vis-NIR spectrometer, (2) Event-imaging spectrometer, (3) TIR correlation spectrometer. Scheduled launch date > 2020. A GEO-CAPE Community Workshop, will take place in Boulder, Colorado from 11 - 13 May 2011.

Employment Opportunities

Several new positions have been added to the Employment Opportunities section of the IOCCG website, including a Senior Lecturer at the University of Strathclyde (Scotland), a Ph.D in marine optics at the Laboratoire d’Océanologie et de Géosciences (Wimereux, France) and a Visiting Fellowship in remote sensing of ocean colour, at a Canadian Laboratory.

Ocean Colour Workshop in Asia

Group Photo The 7th Korean-Japan Workshop for Ocean Colour (KJWOCK) was held on 20 December 2010 in Hakodate, Japan. The first workshop took place in 2004 and has been maintained since that time by Profs. Ishizaka (Nagoya Univ., Japan) and Ahn (KORDI, South Korea). The aim of these workshops is to exchange scientific knowledge between Korea and Japan and to promote capacity building. The 2010 workshop was expanded and co-held with another Asian ocean colour workshop, namely the 1st Asian Workshop for Ocean Colour research (AWOC), organized by the Japanese ocean colour community and funded by Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Nagoya University and Hokkaido University.

The joint workshop attracted more than 50 attendees from China, Indonesia, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam, as well as from Kenya and USA. The participants were not only from scientific communities, but also from space agencies, national governments and commercial companies. Presentations included the status of on-going satellite projects such as GOCI by KORDI (Korea) and GCOM-C by JAXA (Japan), as well as the latest information on regional activities by scientists using ocean colour data. The importance of collaborative work in ocean colour research was also discussed and there was community consensus regarding the further need for community development in Asia. The successful joint workshop left an imprint on ocean colour research activities in the region.

New Training Initiatives

A number of new training courses/fellowships are available for ocean colour scientists in the coming year:

  • Cornell Summer Satellite Remote Sensing Training Course for Biological Oceanographers, 3 - 17 June, 2011 (Cornell University, USA). The course will give participants the practical skills to acquire, analyze and visualize data sets derived from a wide variety of ocean satellite sensors (e.g., SeaWiFS/ MODIS/ MERIS, AVHRR, SeaWinds on QuikSCAT and Topex/ Jason/ ERS1/2).
  • Calibration and Validation for Ocean Colour Remote Sensing,
    11 - 29 July, 2011 (University of Maine, Darling Marine Center, USA). Intensive, cross-disciplinary, graduate course with a theme of vicarious calibration of satellite ocean colour radiometers.
  • ESA-MOST Dragon 2 Programme - Advanced training course in ocean remote sensing, 24-29 October 2011, East China Normal University, China.
  • NOWPAP/PICES/WESTPAC joint training course on Remote Sensing Data Analysis, 8 - 12 October, 2011 (Vladivostok, Russia). This course will contribute to capacity building of countries in the Northwest Pacific in utilizing remote sensing techniques for monitoring and assessment of the marine and coastal environment. Details to be announced shortly.
  • POGO-SCOR Visiting Fellowships aimed to promote training and capacity building in developing countries leading towards a global observation scheme for the oceans. POGO Visiting Professorship scheme to promote capacity building in the host institution, leading to enhanced sustained ocean observations to address societal issues of the day.

New Publications

Several new references have been added to the IOCCG Recent References list, two of which are highlighted here: a paper by Vantrepotte et al. entitled "Global particulate matter pool temporal variability over the SeaWiFS period (1997-2007)", and one by Hirata et al. entitled "Synoptic relationships between surface Chlorophyll-a and diagnostic pigments specific to phytoplankton functional types". The first paper investigated the major global patterns of temporal variability associated with the marine particulate backscattering coefficient at 490 nm, bbp[490] (an indicator of the particulate organic carbon concentration), and particle backscattering spectral dependency, γ (a proxy for the relative proportion between small and large particles) over the 10-year SeaWiFS time series. The contribution of the seasonal cycle to the variance in the time series exhibited similar spatial patterns for γ and Chlorophyll-a concentration (Chla). The spatial distribution of significant monotonic changes for γ and Chla (reaching up to ± 5% yr-1, see Figure) was also comparable with opposite signs of the slope, indicating that inter-annual changes in Chla and average particle size are often positively correlated.

Significant monotonic trends (in % yr-1) detected for γ over the SeaWiFS period.

Conversely, spatial patterns of seasonality and trend for bbp[490] often differed from those of Chla and γ. In the western tropical Pacific, opposite changes were found for Chla and γ, which were well correlated with the time course of the Niño 4 index. These results highlight the fact that changes in algal biomass are generally associated with concurrent shifts in particle size. Conversely, the regional average bbp[490] trend signal only exhibited a very slight decrease over the period, with none of the large oscillations that affect Chla and γ.

In the paper by Hirata et al. synoptic-scale relationships between chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) and phytoplankton functional types (PFTs) at the sea surface were derived from global HPLC data to estimate a phytoplankton community structure consisting of a total of ten phytoplankton groups (micro-, nano- and picoplankton, diatoms, dinoflagellates, green algae, prymnesiophytes, pico-eukaryotes, prokaryotes and Prochlorococcus sp.). The observed relationships between Chl-a and PFTs showed that a community shift of phytoplankton at the basin and global scales is reflected by a change in Chl-a of the total phytoplankton community, and that Chl-a of the total community is an index of not only phytoplankton biomass but also of their community structure. The relationships quantified from the global in situ data set were applied to SeaWiFS satellite Chl-a data from 1998 to 2009 to show the global climatological fields of the surface distribution of PFTs.

Click on image to enlarge.

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