News from the IOCCG

IOCCG-17 Committee Meeting

The 17th IOCCG Committee meeting took place at Udayana University, Denpasar, Indonesia from 28 February - 1 March 2012, and was hosted by the Center for Remote Sensing and Ocean Sciences (CreSOS). Scientific committee members from various institutes around the world attended the meeting, as well as representatives from international agencies with an interest in satellite ocean colour radiometry (CNES, CSA, ESA, EUMETSAT, INPE, ISRO, JAXA, JRC, KORDI, NASA and NOAA).

IOCCG-17 Group
Participants at the IOCCG-17 Committee meeting, Denpasar, Indonesia

The Committee reviewed the status of the eight current IOCCG working groups. The WG on "Ocean Colour from a Geostationary Orbit" has completed its deliberations and the report (IOCCG Report 12) will be printed by NOAA later this year. The reports from the WGs on "Mission Requirements for OC Remote Sensing" and "Calibration of Satellite OC Sensors" should be ready for printing in early 2013. The WGs on "Phytoplankton Functional Types" and "Harmful Algal Blooms" were nearing completion, while the WG on "Ocean Colour Remote Sensing in Polar Seas" held a meeting in November 2011, with a second meeting planned for August 2012, in San Diego (USA). Two revised WG proposals were approved: one from Kevin Ruddick for a WG on Intercomparison of Retrieval Algorithms for Coastal Waters, and the other from Roland Doerffer for a WG on Uncertainties in Ocean Colour Remote Sensing.

Agency contributions to the CEOS Ocean-Colour Radiometry-Virtual Constellation (OCR-VC) were reviewed and a strategic plan for the development of the INSITU-OCR (International Network for Sensor InTercomparison and Uncertainty assessment for Ocean Colour Radiometry) was also discussed. In addition, a new standing WG was formed for the "Assessment of Essential Climate Variables (ECV)", co-chaired by Jim Yoder (WHOI) and Nicolas Hoepffner (JRC). The goal of the WG is to undertake a critical comparison of ocean-colour ECV data products and provide confidence limits for the establishment of a long and coherent time-series of global ocean-colour ECV products.

New IOCCG members (L-R): Gene Feldman (NASA, USA), Nick Hardman-Mountford (CSIRO, Australia) and Giuseppe Zibordi (JRC, EU).

New IOCCG Committee Members

Three new scientific members were appointed to the IOCCG Committee for a three-year term: Gene Feldman (NASA, USA), Nick Hardman-Mountford (CSIRO, Australia) and Giuseppe Zibordi (JRC, EU). We extend a warm welcome to the new committee members and look forward to their participation in the years ahead. The full minutes of the 17th IOCCG Committee meeting are available on the IOCCG website.

Plans for an International OC Science Meeting

The IOCCG conducted a special session at the recent NASA Ocean Colour Research Team meeting (23-25 April 2012, Seattle, USA), to inform participants of current IOCCG activities, especially those related to the production of global ocean-colour climate data records (CDRs), and to present the rationale for holding an International Ocean Colour Science (IOCS) meeting. The meeting will be open to all ocean colour scientists, and will be organized to include invited keynote speakers, information talks by space agency representatives, splinter sessions on predefined topics of interest, poster sessions, updates on research programs and international collaboration, and discussion sessions. The meeting is tentatively scheduled to take place in Europe in April 2013. Details to follow.

IOCCG Summer Lecture Series

The IOCCG Summer Lecture Series will take place at the Laboratoire d’Océanographie de Villefranche (LOV), in Villefranche-sur-Mer, France from 2 – 14 July 2012. A total of 106 excellent and deserving applications were received but only 17 students could be selected for logistical and financial reasons. The Selections Committee had a very difficult task evaluating all the applications, given the number of applications that far exceeded the number of spaces available in the course, and the general excellence of all the applications. The IOCCG would like to thank all the students that applied to attend the course, as well as the Selections Committee for their valuable input. Congratulations to the selected students.

Morocco Training Course

The Joint Research Centre (EC) is organising a training course on Methods and Application of Satellite Remote Sensing in African Coastal and Regional Seas, which will take place in El Jadida (Morocco) from 6 - 16 November 2012. The course will be sponsored by a number of different organisations including the IOCCG, and is designed to provide the theoretical basis of satellite-based optical radiometry, as well as key applications in spatial monitoring and managing the coastal zones, and in protecting marine ecosystems and resources. Further details on the training course and registration information are available at the JRC-based AMIS (African Marine Information System) web site:

Oceans and Society: Blue Planet Symposium

A kick-off symposium for the new GEO Task SB-01 "Oceans and Society: the Blue Planet" will be held in Ilhabela, São Paulo, Brazil, from 19 to 21 November, 2012. The symposium will take place just prior to the GEO-IX Plenary, to be held in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil (22-23 November 2012). The Blue Planet Task has four main components:

  1. Global Ocean Information Coordination and Access;
  2. Operational Systems for Monitoring of Marine and Coastal Ecosystems;
  3. A Global Operational Ocean Forecasting Network; and
  4. Applications of Earth Observations and Information to Sustainable Fishery and Aquaculture Management.

The Symposium will highlight each of these components through special sessions on their programme elements. For example, there will be sessions on GOOS and the Framework for Ocean Observing, GEOBON (marine), SAFARI, ChloroGIN, OceanSITES, capacity building and operational oceanography in Brazilian regional waters. The full program will be finalized in the next few months and suggestions are welcome. For those already engaged in the Blue Planet Task, the symposium will offer an opportunity to become familiar with the full scope of its activities, to help develop synergies and linkages, and to plan future involvement. For those not yet engaged, it is a chance to see where you might fit in to participate in the exciting expansion of GEO into the marine sphere. Please send initial expressions of interest to Trevor Platt (, with a copy to Li Zhai (

News from ESA

End of Envisat

meris image After 10 years in orbit, communication with ESA’s Envisat satellite, carrying the MERIS ocean colour sensor, was suddenly lost on 8 April 2012. One of the most sophisticated Earth observing missions launched to date, Envisat has provided streams of valuable, high-quality data from the ten instruments on board observing the Earth’s land, atmosphere, oceans and ice caps. Following rigorous attempts to re-establish contact, and the investigation of various failure scenarios, the end of the mission was officially declared on 9 May 2012 (see Press Release).

It was hoped that Envisat would be active at least until the launch of the follow-on Sentinel missions, allowing for cross-calibrations of instruments and continuous data capture. However, Envisat has doubled its five-year design life, and has provided crucial Earth observation data not only to scientists, but also to many operational services, such as monitoring floods and oil spills. Envisat has also contributed valuable information to the services within Europe’s Global Monitoring for Environmental Security (GMES) programme, paving the way for the next generation of satellites. With the end of the Envisat mission, the launch of the upcoming GMES Sentinel satellites has become even more urgent to ensure the continuity of data to users, improve the management of the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security. Sentinel-3, carrying the Ocean Colour and Land Imager (OLCI) is scheduled to begin operations in 2013-2014, although funding for the operating budget for GMES may be in jeopardy (see article in Nature, April 2012).

MERIS Reprocessing

The 3rd MERIS reprocessing was recently completed using the MERIS Ground Segment (MEGS) Processor Version 8.0, and the full data set is now available. The reprocessing had an impact on both L1 and L2 data so there are plans for a 4th reprocessing in 2014 (TBD), which will be further discussed at the 3rd MERIS/(A)ATSR and OCLI-SLST preparatory Workshop (15-19 October 2012). The 3rd reprocessing documentation is available on-line at:

Suomi NPP VIIRS Ocean Colour Update

npp The Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) spacecraft successfully launched on 27 October 2011 bearing several Earth observing instruments, including the Visible-Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS). VIIRS is being used by NOAA to operationally generate normalized water-leaving radiance, inherent optical properties (a and bbp at five wavelengths), and chlorophyll a concentration.

Suomi NPP VIIRS encountered many challenges and delays prior to launch. Most of the challenges with the sensor were eventually met. By the end of 2009, extensive prelaunch sensor testing indicated that no known significant problems remained that would prevent VIIRS from carrying on the ocean colour legacy established with the SeaWiFS and MODIS. But on orbit, progressive degradation of the telescope mirrors was discovered to be causing VIIRS to loose response at wavelengths from red into the shortwave NIR. Fortunately, the degradation is expected to eventually level off so that useful measurements can continue to be made.

The key remaining concerns regarding support for ocean colour research are largely related to data production, including the lack of support for reprocessing, the exclusion of some data products that were originally generated with SeaWiFS and MODIS, and the use of atmospheric correction algorithms that were not entirely consistent with those employed in the climate data records established with SeaWiFS and MODIS. Also, some doubt lingered as to whether sufficient support would be provided for ocean colour validation. Furthermore, the operational system does not produce Level-3 products (i.e., global composites of data products) as shown in the figure below. These issues remain unresolved and continue to be discussed.


This Level-3 composite of chlorophyll a concentration is based on data taken from the VIIRS sensor for the entire month of March 2012. (Courtesy of NASA/GSFC OBPG).

News from NASA

MODIS Aqua Reprocessing

A full mission reprocessing of MODIS-Aqua began on 1 May 2012 to address previously communicated issues with the instrument calibration. Level-2 files are being replaced starting from the beginning of the mission. Level-3 products will be regenerated once the Level-2 processing is complete (~2 weeks). The largest impact is to the post 2009 period, but since a new instrument calibration approach is being adopted, the full mission is being reprocessed to ensure consistency across the time-series. Details on the reprocessing changes and expected impact are available at:

Global MERIS L1B Data in OBPG

Recently, NASA and the European Space Agency entered into a data sharing agreement whereby NASA provided ESA with the full L1A data sets from the MODIS-Aqua and SeaWiFS instruments in exchange for the full MERIS L1B data - both the global reduced resolution (RR) and full resolution (FRS) data sets. Currently, the full L1B RR data set is available from the Ocean Biology Processing Group (OBPG). The FRS data will be available in the near future. Under this agreement, the MERIS collection is available publicly at no cost to registered users who have agreed to the terms and conditions set by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) to access MERIS data. For further information see the NASA announcement.

Ocean Optics XXI Conference

The 21st Ocean Optics Conference will convene in Glasgow Scotland from 8-12 October 2012. On-line pre-registration closes on 1 June 2012. For further information, please visit the conference web-site at

Employment Opportunities

Several new positions have been added to the Employment Opportunities section of the IOCCG website including three PhD positions at the Université Laval (Canada), several post-doctoral positions in Cape Town (South Africa), NOAA/NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center (USA), and Masdar Institute, Abu Dhabi (UAE) as well as researcher positions at the Tartu Observatory (Estonia) and University of Oldenburg (Germany). For further details see:

Material for possible inclusion in the IOCCG Newsletter should be submitted to the Project Scientist, Dr. Venetia Stuart
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