Ocean Colour Name?

Earlier on this year, the IOCCG sent out a request for comments on a proposed new name for ocean colour, Sea Spectral Reflectance (SSR). We were overwhelmed with comments and suggestions, which we have taken seriously and would like to thank all those who took the trouble to reply. The majority of respondents (91%) were in favour of a new name for ocean colour, while 9% preferred to carry on using the term "ocean colour". Of those in favour of a new name, only 43% agreed to the use of SSR, while the reamainder provided alternative suggestions.

We have learned that SSR is already used by many in the remote sensing field to mean Sea Surface Roughness, as associated with SAR data. We would like to thank Gay Mitchelson-Jacob (Centre for Applied Oceanography, Menai Bridge, UK) for pointing this out. Several other people pointed out that the term "sea" limited the meaning to oceans and suggested that we use an acronym with broader connotations to include inland waters.

Our revised proposal is for the term Visible Spectral Radiance (VSR), and we now solicit further comments from the ocean-colour community. This term is neutral on the issue of fresh water versus oceans, and indeed is broad enough to acknowledge that what we are used to thinking of as ocean-colour devices are also used over land. It will have clear units and dimensions. We do not propose to suppress the use of the name ocean colour. For example, in some cases it might be preferred to use the designation Visible Spectral Radiance (Ocean Colour).

Comments can be sent to the IOCCG Project Office ( with the subject line "Ocean-Colour Name?"

Training Course in Uruguay

A post-graduate training course on "Remote Sensing of Ocean Colour in Open, Coastal, and Estuarine waters", recently took place at the Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de la República, Uruguay (4 - 15 April 2005). The course was coordinated and sponsored by IOCCG and the Intergovernmental Oceanic Commission (IOC). Fifteen students from Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay took part in the course, which also formed part of the post-graduate Uruguayan program called PEDECIBA (Programa de Desarrollo de Ciencias Básicas). The course was taught in English and Spanish by six lecturers from USA, Canada, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay.

The course consisted of theoretical lectures, laboratory work, and satellite image analysis. The practical side focused on SeaWiFS image processing and analysis using SeaDAS, as well as water sampling for measurement of chl-a concentration, CDOM and particulate absorption. The students were encouraged to make formal presentations on their current research projects, which were critically discussed with the lecturers and other students. Students were provided with course material and copies of the IOCCG Reports. At the end of the course, the students were evaluated by a formal written examination.

The course contributed to the building of capacity in the area of ocean-colour remote sensing in South America, and in Uruguay in particular. It also provided a forum for future collaboration between students and scientists of the region. Unfortunately, funding limitations restricted the number of participants to a total of 15, but the large number of outstanding applications received from prospective students from many Latin American countries indicates the pressing need for future training of young South American scientists in the ocean-colour arena.

New IOCCG Member

IOCCG members generally serve a three-year term of service on the Committee. Dr. Robert Frouin (Scripps Institution of Oceanography) recently completed his term of service and will be replaced by Dr. Heidi Sosik (right), Associate Scientist from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, USA. We would like to warmly welcome Dr. Sosik onto the IOCCG Committee and look forward to her participation.

Second ANTARES Workshop

The second meeting of the South American ANTARES network, which recently took place on Margarita Island, Venezuela (11-15 January, 2005) was co-sponsored by POGO and IOCCG. The report from this meeting is now available in the IOCCG website. A total of 17 researchers from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, USA, and Venezuela attended the meeting, representing various remote sensing centres around South America, as well as time-series stations. The main goal of ANTARES is to study long-term changes in coastal ecosystems around the South American continent. Participants discussed the variables measured, and methods used at each time-series station, and agreed to share equipment and expertise. The integration of remote sensing data with field data was also addressed and the integrated satellite data management and distribution system, termed CESAR (Coastal Ecosystems of the South American Region), was demonstrated. Satellite temperature and chlorophyll data from this project are now available on the ANTARES web page.

IOCCG Fellowship Students

IOCCG Fellowship student, Valeria Segura from INIDEP in Argentina, will begin her training at a foreign institute this month. She will be working with Dr. Osvaldo Ulloa at the University of Concepcion, Chile, processing and interpreting absorption and primary production data collected during the BEAGLE 2003 expedition on board the R/V Mirai. She plans to help analyse some of the 13C samples from the photosynthesis-irradiance experiments carried out during the cruise, using mass spectrometry.

Another IOCCG Fellowship student, Dr. Milton Kampel from INPE in Brazil, will be travelling to the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Canada in July this year, to work with Dr. Shubha Sathyendranath. He will also be using bio-optical data collected during the BEAGLE 2003 expedition, and will focus on calculation of phytoplankton primary production by ocean-colour remote sensing.

10th IOCCG Meeting

The minutes from the 10th IOCCG Committee meeting, which took place on Margarita Island, Venezuela (19-21 January, 2005) are now available in the Reports and Publications sections of the IOCCG website at:

South Korea To Develop Geostationary Satellite

At the recent IOCCG meeting Dr. Yu-Hwan Ahn of the Korea Ocean Research and Development Institute (KORDI) reported that South Korea has plans to develop a geosynchronous, multi-mission satellite, scheduled for launch in 2008. The mission of the Communication, Ocean and Meteorological Satellite (COMS) is three-fold: weather monitoring, ocean colour and communications. COMS-1 will carry the Geostationary Ocean Colour Imager (GOCI) for observation of the coastal waters around the Korean peninsula. The nominal instrument Field of View would be centred over the Korean Sea at 36oN and 130oE, and would cover a 2,500-by-2,500 kilometer footprint surrounding South Korea and parts of the South China Sea. Image acquisition would occur between 10:00 am and 17:00 pm, with a one hour time interval between successive images. GOCI will have 8 bands in the visible and NIR, including a triplet for the measurement of sun-induced chlorophyll-a fluorescence (660-680-745 nm). Data from GOCI would be received by KORDI and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) and distributed by KORDI. It was anticipated that GOCI could help to determine the occurrence of red tides, which occur frequently off South Korean south coast during summer months.

News from NASA

SeaWiFS is back!

NASA recently amnounced that they had signed a new contract with Orbimage that will provide the ocean-colour research community with continued access to the global (4 km) SeaWiFS data set. Orbimage has already provided NASA with all the global data from 24 December 2004 (end date of the previous contract) to the present, which will soon be processed and available under the same terms and conditions as the previous contracts. NASA will post further details in the near future.

NASA's NOMAD Dataset

The Ocean Biology Processing Group (OBPG) of NASA recently announced the availability of an improved, global bio-optical, in situ data set. This new NASA bio-Optical Marine Algorithm Data set (NOMAD) is the largest in situ public data set ever assembled for bio-optical algorithm development and ocean-colour satellite validation activities. Current data products include coincident observations of water-leaving radiances and chlorophyll-a concentrations, along with relevant metadata, such as the date, time, and coordinates of data collection and binary processing flags. Inherent optical properties (e.g., spectral absorption and backscattering coefficients) and aerosol optical thicknesses will be added in the near future. Data are available via two online mechanisms: a digital text file and a customizable search engine. For further information please see:

NOMAD was compiled using data archived in SeaBASS (the SeaWiFS Bio-optical Archive and Storage System; These data were contributed by participants in the NASA SIMBIOS Program and by voluntary data contributors. All users of NOMAD are requested to acknowledge both the individual data contributors and SeaBASS. A pre-print of the manuscript by Werdell, P.J. and Bailey, S.W. (2005) describing the development of NOMAD is available online in PDF format.

ESA - New BEAM Release

The BEAM Toolbox is a collection of executable tools and an application programming interface (API) developed to facilitate the utilisation, viewing and processing of data from ESA's MERIS ocean-colour sensor, amongst others. BEAM Version 3.2, which includes an orthorectification tool for MERIS and AATSR data and many other useful features, is now available for download at

POGO Visiting Professorship

The Nippon Foundation POGO Visiting Professorship Programme, which was initiated last year, has been renewed for 2005. Details of this programme are available at Please visit the web site and read the details of this programme. Note that this year, disaster management and early warning systems are included as one of the priority areas for this important capacity building programme. The programme allows for extended visits of experienced oceanographers to developing countries, to promote training and sustained capacity building in the area.

New References

In a recent study published in Geophysical Research Letters (2005), Gregg, Casey and McClain demonstrated that phytoplankton concentrations have increased by more than 4 percent over the past six years on a global scale. They used SeaWiFS data from 1998 - 2003 to show that most of the increase occurred in coastal (<200 m deep) regions such as the Patagonian Shelf, Bering Sea, the eastern Pacific, southwest Africa, and the Somalian coast. Although the global open ocean exhibited no significant change, 4 of the 5 oligotrophic mid-ocean gyres (Atlantic and Pacific) showed declines in chlorophyll over the 6 years. In all but the North Atlantic gyre, these were associated with significant increases in sea surface temperature in at least one season. These results suggest that in the mid-ocean gyres, the decrease in phytoplankton concentrations may be related to warming oceans. The cause of the coastal increase in phytoplankton concentrations was not known, but could be a sign of nutrient stress (e.g. land run-off depositing agricultural fertilizers and other nutrients in the oceans), or other factors.
Please consult the Recent Ocean Colour References (2003-2005) section of the IOCCG website for other new publications.

Employment Opportunities

Several new job opportunities in the field of ocean colour have been posted on the IOCCG Empolyment Opportunities webpage.

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