Satellites for the study of ocean primary productivity

  • Smith R
  • Baker K
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Estimates of global marine primary productivity are currently based upon the14C method for determining rates of plankton photosynthesis and upon the relatively sparse data available using shipboard sampling techniques. With recent advances in remote sensing and in multiplatform (ship, aircraft, and satellite) sampling strategies, it is now possible to significantly lower the variance in estimates of phytoplankton abundance and of population growth rates. Multiplatform sampling strategies are essential to assess the mean and variance of phytoplankton biomass on a regional or on a global basis. The relative errors associated with shipboard and satellite estimates of phytoplankton biomass and primary productivity, as well as the increased statistical accuracy now possible from the utilization of contemporaneous data from both sampling platforms, are discussed. It is shown that one of the more exciting and potentially useful aspects of oceanographic research today is our new ability to view large areas of the ocean synoptically. © 1983.

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  • R. C. Smith

  • K. S. Baker

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