Journal cover Journal topic
Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Biogeosciences, 8, 3631-3647, 2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
13 Dec 2011
An algorithm for detecting Trichodesmium surface blooms in the South Western Tropical Pacific
C. Dupouy1, D. Benielli-Gary2, J. Neveux3, Y. Dandonneau4, and T. K. Westberry5 1LOPB – Laboratoire d'Océanographie Physique et Biogéochimique, UMR 6535, CNRS-INSU-IRD-Université de la Méditerranée, 1M213, Centre de Nouméa, B. P. A5, New Caledonia, France
2LAM – Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille, Pôle de l'Étoile Site de Château-Gombert 38, rue Frédéric Joliot-Curie 13388, Marseille Cedex 13, France
3UPMC – CNRS, UMR7621, Observatoire Océanologique de Banyuls, Laboratoire d'Océanographie Microbienne, Avenue Fontaulé, 66651 Banyuls sur Mer, France
4Université de Paris VI-UPMC-LOCEAN and 14 rue de la Victoire, 91740 Chamarande, France
5Dept. Botany Plant Pathology, Oregon State University Corvallis, OR 97331–2902, USA
Abstract. Trichodesmium, a major colonial cyanobacterial nitrogen fixer, forms large blooms in NO3-depleted tropical oceans and enhances CO2 sequestration by the ocean due to its ability to fix dissolved dinitrogen. Thus, its importance in C and N cycles requires better estimates of its distribution at basin to global scales. However, existing algorithms to detect them from satellite have not yet been successful in the South Western Tropical Pacific (SP). Here, a novel algorithm (TRICHOdesmium SATellite) based on radiance anomaly spectra (RAS) observed in SeaWiFS imagery, is used to detect Trichodesmium during the austral summertime in the SP (5° S–25° S 160° E–170° W). Selected pixels are characterized by a restricted range of parameters quantifying RAS spectra (e.g. slope, intercept, curvature). The fraction of valid (non-cloudy) pixels identified as Trichodesmium surface blooms in the region is low (between 0.01 and 0.2 %), but is about 100 times higher than deduced from previous algorithms. At daily scales in the SP, this fraction represents a total ocean surface area varying from 16 to 48 km2 in Winter and from 200 to 1000 km2 in Summer (and at monthly scale, from 500 to 1000 km2 in Winter and from 3100 to 10 890 km2 in Summer with a maximum of 26 432 km2 in January 1999). The daily distribution of Trichodesmium surface accumulations in the SP detected by TRICHOSAT is presented for the period 1998–2010 which demonstrates that the number of selected pixels peaks in November–February each year, consistent with field observations. This approach was validated with in situ observations of Trichodesmium surface accumulations in the Melanesian archipelago around New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Fiji Islands for the same period.

Citation: Dupouy, C., Benielli-Gary, D., Neveux, J., Dandonneau, Y., and Westberry, T. K.: An algorithm for detecting Trichodesmium surface blooms in the South Western Tropical Pacific, Biogeosciences, 8, 3631-3647,, 2011.
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