Saldanha Bay, South Africa I: the use of ocean colour remote sensing to assess phytoplankton biomass

  • M E Smith
  • G C Pitcher
Keywords: MERIS, MPH algorithm


The efficacy of ocean colour remote sensing in assessing the variability of phytoplankton biomass within Saldanha Bay is examined. Satellite estimates of chlorophyll a (Chl a) were obtained using the maximum peak-height (MPH) algorithm on full-resolution (300 m) data from the Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS). Subsurface Chl a maxima often occur within Saldanha Bay below the mean detection depth of the satellite (1.5 m) during periods of thermal stratification. Consequently, the MPH product was poorly correlated to in situ data from 4 m depth (r2 and average relative percentage difference [RPD] of 0.094 and 53% respectively); however, the coefficient of determination was much improved if limited to in situ data collected under conditions of mixing (r2 and RPD of 0.869 and 89%, respectively). Composites of monthly MPH Chl a data reveal mean concentrations consistent with in situ seasonal trends of phytoplankton biomass, confirming the capability of the MPH algorithm to qualitatively resolve surface Chl a distribution within the bay.

Keywords: MERIS, MPH algorithm


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1814-2338
print ISSN: 1814-232X