People > Dr Gavin H. Tilstone

Dr Gavin H. Tilstone

Bio-optical oceanographer

Contact Details

+44 (0)1752 633100 (switchboard)


Dr Gavin Tilstone is a NERC Merit Scientist with over 25 years’ experience in the fields of Inherent and Apparent Optical properties, phytoplankton, photosynthesis, primary production, ocean colour remote sensing. He leads research on satellite ocean colour validation and algorithm development, on water quality including detecting harmful algal blooms and the use of satellite ocean colour in quantifying the marine carbon cycle. He works Earth Observation Science and Applications group. Gavin’s role is to expand the use of Earth Observation data for studying the environment and quantifying the marine carbon cycle by bringing in research funding and leading projects.

Dr Tilstone manages a research team who work on optics and ocean colour remote sensing within International, European and UKRI research projects. The results from these projects contribute to impact in policy using ocean colour space observations to address key questions on climate change, eutrophication and harmful algal blooms. Dr. Tilstone has worked on >30 International and EU research projects, has considerable management experience as Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator on >20 ESA, EU, NERC and Commercial projects, has employed a wide range post-doctoral and visiting fellowships and has supervised 9 PhD projects.

Dr Tilstone has published over 90 peer-reviewed papers, with an H-index of 36 and i-10 index of 72. Gavin Tilstone gained his PhD in botany at the University of Exeter, UK and went on to do post-doctoral research on phytoplankton and bio-optics at CSIC, Vigo, Spain and Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium.


Atlantic Meridional Transect Ocean Flux from Satellite Campaign (AMT4OceanSatFlux)

Contact: Dr Gavin H. Tilstone

The AMT4OceanSatFlux project will measure the flux of carbon dioxide (CO2) between the atmosphere and the ocean utilising a state-of-the-art eddy...

S-3 EUROHAB - Sentinel products for detecting EUtROphication and Harmful Algal Bloom events
S-3 EUROHAB - Sentinel products for detecting EUtROphication and Harmful Algal Bloom events

S-3 EUROHAB will use the latest satellite technology to improve the way water quality and harmful algal blooms (HABs) are monitored in the English...

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Other key projects

  • JMP-EUNOSAT: Joint Monitoring Programme of the Eutrophication of the North Sea with Satellite data

Selected key publications

Tilstone G.H., Pardo, S., Dall’Olmo, G., Brewin, R.G., Nencioli, F., Dessailly, D., Kwiatkowska, E., Casal, T., Donlon, C. 2021. Performance of Ocean Colour algorithms for Sentinel-3 OLCI, MODIS-Aqua and VIIRS in open-ocean waters of the Atlantic. Remote Sens. Env., 260, 112444. doi:10.1016/j.rse.2021.112444

Qin, P., Simis, S.H., Tilstone, G.H. 2017. Radiometric validation of atmospheric correction for MERIS in the Baltic Sea based on continuous observations from ships and AERONET-OC. Remote Sensing Environment, 200: 263-280. doi:10.1016/j.rse.2017.08.024

Tilstone G.H., Mallor-Hoya S., Gohin F., Bel Couto A., Sa C., Gloela P., Cristina S., Airs R., Icely J., Zuhlke M., Groom S.B. 2017. Which Ocean Colour algorithm for MERIS in NW European coastal waters? Remote Sensing Environment, 189: 132-151. doi:10.1016/j.rse.2016.11.012

Pabortsava K., Lampitt R. S., Benson J., Casciotti K., Crowe C., McLachlan R., Le Moigne F.A.C., Moore C. M., Pebody C., Provost P, Rees A., Tilstone G.H., Woodward E.M.S. (2017) Carbon sequestration in the deep Atlantic enhanced by Saharan dust. Nature-GeoSciences. 10: 189-194. doi:10.1038/ngeo2899

Tilstone G.H., Xie Y., Robinson C., Serret P., Raitsos D., Powell T., Aranguren-Gassis M., Garcia-Martin E.M., Kitidis V. 2015. Satellite estimates of net community production indicate predominance of net autotrophy in the Atlantic Ocean. Remote Sensing of Environment, 164: 254-269. doi: 10.1016/j.rse.2015.03.017

Tilstone G.H., Miller P.I., Brewin R., Priede, I.G. 2014. Enhancement of primary production outside of the spring bloom in the North Atlantic identified by remote sensing of ocean colour and temperature. Remote Sensing of Environment, 146: 77-86. doi:10.1016/j.rse.2013.04.021

Kowalczuk P, Tilstone G, Zabłocka M, Röttgers R, Thomas R. 2013. Composition of Dissolved Organic Matter along an Atlantic Meridional Transect from fluorescence spectroscopy and parallel factor analysis. Marine Chemistry, 157: 170-184. doi:10.1016/j.marchem.2013.10.004

Tilstone G, Airs R, Martinez-Vicente V, Widdicombe C, Llewellyn C. 2010. High concentrations of Mycosporine like amino acids and coloured dissolved organic material in the sea surface microlayer off the Iberian Peninsular. Limnology & Oceanography 55, 5: 1835-1850. doi:10.4319/lo.2010.55.5.1835

Other activities

  • Sentinel-3 Validation Team
  • Reviewer for a range of well-known and high impact scientific journals;
  • Reviewer for grant proposals for a range of government organisations (including the EU, NERC, Belgium
  • Space Policy Office, Space Research Organization of the Netherlands, Département Environnements, Ecosystèmes et Ressources biologiques, Estonia Science Foundation).
  • Invited expert as a member of Scientific Steering Committees on external projects.
  • External examiner for doctoral theses internationally and in Europe.