People > Dr Gavin Tilstone

Dr Gavin Tilstone

Bio-optical Oceanographer

Contact Details

+44 (0)1752 633100 (switchboard)


Dr Gavin Tilstone is a Senior Scientific Officer at PML and works in bio-optical oceanography and remote sensing and has expertise in ocean colour, satellite validation and algorithm development, optics, phytoplankton photosynthesis and primary production. His 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, to lead and manage a research group consisting of PhD and post-doctoral scientists and to publish novel research in high impact journals.

Over the past fifteen years he has been developing marine research that links optical oceanography and remote sensing to address key environmental issues. This includes satellite ocean colour validation for both open ocean (case 1) and coastal case 2 waters, development of a range of satellite primary production algorithms both globally, open ocean waters of the Atlantic and coastal areas. He has used these algorithms to generate time series to evaluate changes in the carbon cycle in the global ocean. His work on MERIS validation has gained international recognition. Through the NERC-National Capabilities, the Atlantic Meridional Transect & Western Channel Observatory, Gavin collects time series of bio-optical and primary production data that are widely used for Earth Observation science and form important components of databases such as ESA MERMAID and NERC-BODC. Dr Tilstone’s research activities are highly inter-disciplinary and have a strong links with research in Biogeochemistry, Biodiversity and Socio-economics. He has worked on >25 International and EU research projects, has considerable management experience as Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator on 16 ESA, EU, NERC and Commercial projects. He has managed a wide range post-doctoral and visiting fellowships and has supervised 9 PhD projects.

Dr Gavin Tilstone has published over 60 peer reviewed research papers.


Atlantic Meridional Transect Ocean Flux from Satellite Campaign (AMT4OceanSatFlux)

Contact: Dr Gavin 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

Contact: Dr Gavin Tilstone

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

  • European Space Agency SEOM C2X,
  • INTERREG IVA 2SEAS ISECA - project Information System on the Eutrophication of our Coastal Areas
  • EUFAR-HYQUAPRO – higher performing water algorithms
  • COASTCOLOUR - European Space Agency high resolution ocean colour satellite algorithms
  • Ecosystem of the mid-Atlantic Ridge at the sub-polar front and Charlie Gibbs Fracture Zone (ECOMAR)
  • NERC UK SOLAS grant, Investigation of the near surface production of iodocarbons – rates and exchanges (INSPIRE)

Selected key publications

  • 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.
  • 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., Taylor B., Blondeau-Patissier D., Powell T., Groom S.B., Rees A.P., Lucas M. (2015) Comparison of new and primary production models using SeaWiFS data in contrasting hydrographic zones of the northern North Atlantic. Remote Sensing of Environment 156: 473-489. doi:10.1016/j.rse.2014.10.013
  • 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.