Measures Ocean Color Project

Satellite ocean color data products are all too frequently relegated to a single, unique product, the chlorophyll concentration. However, the ocean color signal (the normalized water-leaving radiance spectrum, LwN(lambda)) contains information about other water components or processes such as the concentrations and type of suspended particulate and dissolved materials, the composition of the phytoplankton community and the productivity of the water column. The retrieval and analysis of these and other novel ocean color products are transforming our understanding of ocean biological and biogeochemical processes.

The objective of our MEASURES project is to create and distribute for evaluation a wide variety of established and new ocean color products that are candidates to become Earth Science Data Records (ESDR’s). These products range from ocean optical properties and phytoplankton functional groups to phytoplankton growth rates and carbon-based productivity and some of them will be derived from the data merging of multiple sensors (SeaWiFS, MODIS and possibly MERIS). These new and innovative ocean color products will help address various science questions related to e.g. primary and heterotrophic production, photochemistry, light budget, physiology, phytoplankton functional type, particle size distribution, particulate organic carbon concentration and net primary production rates.

In parallel to the generation of ocean color products we will implement and distribute quality indices for these products so the data users will know what they are getting and how it relates to previous versions of the products, similar satellite data products and in situ validation data. We will also track and manage algorithm and data lineage throughout the process and implement methods for automatically informing users of updated products or analyses. The suite of products that can be considered ocean color ESDR’s will be determined in consultation with our advisory board and data users. Once an agreement will be reached on a particular product, codes, data production and distribution for that product will be transferred to the NASA Ocean Biology Processing Group (OBPG) at the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC).


This project is part of the Making Earth Science Data Records for Use in Research Environments (MEaSUREs) initiative of NASA.