ISSN 2070-7401 (Print), ISSN 2411-0280 (Online)
Sovremennye problemy distantsionnogo zondirovaniya Zemli iz kosmosa


Sovremennye problemy distantsionnogo zondirovaniya Zemli iz kosmosa, 2015, Vol. 12, No. 2, pp. 114-126

Validation of satellite derived primary production models in the Northeast Atlantic

P.V. Lobanova1 , I. L. Bashmachnikov2,1  , V. Brotas2 
1 Saint-Petersburg State University, Saint-Petersburg, Russia
2 MARE – Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre / Centro de Oceanografia, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal
With all the variety of models used for calculation of primary production from remote sensing data, a choice of the most realistic one remains a non-trivial issue. The use of regional biological parameters additionally increases the degree of correspondence between a model and in-situ observations. In this work, we estimate primary production in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean in 1998 - 2005 using three frequently used models: two models are based on the remotely measured chlorophyll-a concentration (VGPM and BIOM) and one on the remotely measured coefficient of light absorption by phytoplankton pigments (Aph-PP). The model results are further compared with in-situ observations of primary production in the area 20°–51° N and 10°– 40° W.
The primary production models use as the input level 3 Ocean Color data provided by the OC-CCI database ( Photosynthetic model parameters are taken from experimental measurements of phytoplankton photosynthetic efficiency under different light conditions obtained for Northeast Atlantic phytoplankton species.
The results show a close similarity in the patterns of primary production obtained by different models, although the absolute values in different models differ substantially. BIOM model is found to describe better the observed seasonal and spatial variability of the primary production in the Northeast Atlantic as compared to the two other models. However, in most of the cases BIOM slightly underestimates the production values. Use of regional photosynthetic parameters contributes to closer approximation of in-situ observations by the models.
Keywords: models of primary production, Northeast Atlantic, remote sensing, chlorophyll-a, absorption coefficient of phytoplankton pigments
Full text


  1. Demidov A.B., Mosharov S.A.
  2. Finenko Z.Z., Suslin V.V., Churilova T.Ya. Regional'naya model' dlya rascheta pervichnoi produktsii Chernogo morya s ispol'zovaniem dannykh sputnikovogo skanera tsveta Sea WiFS (The regional model to calculate the Black Sea primary production using satellite color scanner SeaWiFS), Morskoi ekologicheskii zhurnal, 2009, No. 1, Vol. 8, pp. 81–106.
  3. Babin M., Morel A., Hervé C., Bricaud A., Kolber Z., and Falkowski P.G. Nitrogen- and irradiancedependent variations of the maximum quantum yield of carbon fixation in eutrophic, mesotrophic and oligotrophic marine systems, Deep Sea Research I, 1996, Vol. 43(8), pp. 1241–1272.
  4. Behrenfeld M. J., and Falkowski P. G. Photosynthetic rates derived from satellite based chlorophyll concentration, Limnology and Oceanography, 1997, Vol. 42(1), pp. 1–20.
  5. Behrenfeld M. J., Boss E., Siegel D., Shea D.M. Carbon-based ocean production and phytoplankton physiology from space, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 2005, Vol. 19, GB1006.
  6. Dogliotti A.I., Lutz V.A., Segura V. Estimation of primary production in the southern Argentine continental shelf and shelf-break regions using field and remote sensing data, Remote Sensing of Environment, 2014, Vol. 140, pp. 497–508.
  7. Figueiras F.G., Espinoza-González O., Arbones B., Garrido J.L., Teixeira I.G., Castro C.G. Estimating phytoplankton size-fractionated primary production in the northwestern Iberian upwelling: Is mixotrophy relevant in pigmented nanoplankton? Progress in Oceanography, 2014, in press (available at .
  8. Gordon H. R., McCluney W. R. Estimation of the depth of sunlight penetration in the sea for remote sensing, Applied Optics, 1975, Vol. 14, pp. 413–416.
  9. Johnson Z. Regulation of marine photosynthetic efficiency by photosystem II. PhD dissertation: botany, 2000, p. 189.
  10. Kahru M., Jacox M.G., Lee Z., Kudela R.M., Manzano-Sarabia M., Mitchell B.G. Optimized multi-satellite merger of primary production estimates in the California Current using inherent optical properties, Journal of Marine Systems, 2014 (accepted manuscript).
  11. Kiefer D. A. and Mitchell B. G. A simple, steady state description of phytoplankton growth based on absorption cross section and quantum efficiency, Limnology and Oceanography, 1983, Vol. 28, pp. 770–776.
  12. Kyewalyanga M.N., Platt T., Sathyendranath S. Ocean primary production calculated by spectral and broad-band models, Marine ecology progress series, 1992, Vol. 85, pp.171–185.
  13. Kyewalyanga M.N., Platt T., Sathyendranath S., Lutz V.A. and Stuart V. Seasonal variations in physiological parameters of phytoplankton across the North Atlantic, Journal of Plankton Research, 1998, Vol. 20 (l), pp. 17–42.
  14. Lee Z. P., Carder K. L., Marra J., Steward R. G., and Perry M. J. Estimating primary production at depth from remote sensing, Applied Optics, 1996, Vol. 35, pp. 463–474.
  15. Longhurst A. Seasonal cycles of pelagic production and consumption, Progress in Oceanography, 1995, Vol. 36. pp. 77–167.
  16. Marra J., Trees C. C., O'Reilly J. E. Phytoplankton pigment absorption: A strong predictor of primary production in the surface ocean, Deep Sea Research I, 2007, Vol. 54(2), pp. 155–163.
  17. Mélin F., Hoepffner N. Monitoring phytoplankton production from satellite: an aid to marine resources management, Handbook of satellite remote sensing image interpretation: marine applications, 2011, pp. 79–93.
  18. Morel A. Light and marine photosynthesis: a spectral model with geochemical and climatological implications, Progress in Oceanography, 1991, Vol. 26, pp. 263–306.
  19. Morel A., Antoine D., Babin M., Dandonneau Y. Measured and modeled primary production in the northeast Atlantic (EUMELI JGOFS program): the impact of natural variations in photosynthetic parameters on model predictive skill, Deep Sea Research I, 1996, Vol. 43(8), pp. 1273–1304.
  20. Morel A., Berthon J. F. Surface pigments, algal biomass profiles, and potential production of the euphotic layer: Relationships reinvestigated in view of remote-sensing applications, Limnology and Oceanography, 1989, Vol. 34, pp.1545–1562.
  21. Nascimento S, Franco P, Sousa F., Dias J., Neves F. Automated computational delimitation of SST upwelling areas using fuzzy clustering, Computers & Geosciences , 2012, Vol. 43, pp. 207–2016.
  22. Pelegrí J.L., Arístegui J., Cana L., González-Dávila M., Hernández-Guerra A., Hernández-León S., Marrero-Díaz A., Montero M.F., Sangrá P., Santana-Casiano M. Coupling between the open ocean and the coastal upwelling region off northwest Africa: water recirculation and offshore pumping of organic matter, Journal of Marine Systems, 2005, Vol. 54, pp. 3–37.
  23. Picart S.S., Sathyendranath S., Dowell M., Moore T., Platt T. Remote sensing of assimilation number for marine phytoplankton, Remote Sensing of Environment, 2013, Vol. 146, pp. 87–96.
  24. Platt T., Sathyendranath S. Oceanic primary production: Estimation by remote sensing at local and regional scales, Science, 1988, Vol. 241, pp. 1613–1620.
  25. Platt T., Gallegos C. L., Harrison W. G. Photoinhibition of photosynthesis in natural assemblages of marine phytoplankton, Journal of marine research, 1980, Vol. 38, pp. 687–701.
  26. Smyth T. J., Tilstone G. H., Groom S. B. Integration of radiative transfer into satellite models of ocean primary production, Journal of geophysical research, 2005, Vol. 110, C10014.
  27. Suggett D., Kraay G., Holligan P., Davey M., Jim Aiken J., Geider R. Assessment of photosynthesis in a spring cyanobacterial bloom by use of a fast repetition rate fluorometer, Limnology and Oceanography, 2001, Vol. 46 (4), pp. 802–810.
  28. Teira E., Mourin B., Maran E., Pérez V., María J. Pazó, Pablo Serret, Demetrio de Armas, José Escánez, E. Malcolm S. Woodward, Emilio Fernández. Variability of chlorophyll and primary production in the Eastern North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre: potential factors affecting phytoplankton activity, Deep-Sea Research I, 2005, Vol. 52, pp. 569–588.
  29. Tilstone G., Miller P., Brewin R., Priede I. Enhancement of primary production in the North Atlantic outside of the spring bloom, identified by remote sensing of ocean color and temperature, Remote Sensing of Environment, 2013, Vol. 146, pp.77–86.
  30. Tilstone G., Smyth T., Poulton A., Hutson R. Measured and remotely sensed estimates of primary production in the Atlantic Ocean from 1998 to 2005, Deep-Sea Research II, 2009, Vol. 56, pp. 918–930.