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Funding boost for satellite ocean observation

2 November 2022

Additional funding has been awarded to continue satellite research that will ultimately help increase understanding of the important role of phytoplankton and microbes in the ocean and Earth system, their interactions and how changes in their function could impact our environment and climate.
This Copernicus Sentinel-2 image captured in July 2019 shows spectacular algal blooms in the Baltic Sea, near the island of Gotland (Credit: ┬ęcontains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO) Top image: This Copernicus Sentinel-2 image captured in July 2019 shows spectacular algal blooms in the Baltic Sea, near the island of Gotland (Credit: ©contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)

Prof. Shubha Sathyendranath, Merit Remote Sensing Scientist at PML, has been successful in securing additional funding to continue her and her team’s ground-breaking satellite observation research, as part of the ‘Simons Collaboration on Computational Biogeochemical Modelling of Marine Ecosystems (CBIOMES)’ project.

In Phase 2 of the CBIOMES project, Prof. Sathyendranath will lead her team in developing novel and improving existing satellite-based products for use within the fields of ocean biogeochemistry and marine ecology.
The power of satellite observations, when combined with robust and accurate physiological models, enables the exploration of ocean biogeochemistry and ecology at the global scale, with unparalleled temporal and spatial reach and over a long period, making world-wide ocean observations more resource efficient.
The areas of research this award will fund at PML include:
  • using improved algorithms to retrieve biogeochemical and ecological properties of the ocean from satellite data
  • determining the chlorophyll-carbon dynamics in the ocean
  • investigating stability and tipping points for phytoplankton in the context of climate change
  • interrogating satellite data for evidence of predicted behaviour generated by models
  • studying the time evolution of properties at target locations and the extent of different provinces
  • improving the parameterisation of the optical properties of phytoplankton and other optical constituents in water
  • investigating the associations between bacteria and phytoplankton.
This work builds on the advancements made during Phase 1, such as the development of a satellite-based method for mapping phytoplankton carbon, establishing an advanced global database on photosynthesis-irradiance parameters and computing a global time series of primary production over more than two decades.
Prof. Sathyendranath commented: “We are delighted to continue our work within the CBIOMES project. Using satellites provides us with a rich source of data and this mode of observation remains our only window into the marine ecosystem at synoptic scales. We welcome this opportunity to build on collaborations developed in the first phase with the excellent scientists from other groups who bring complementary expertises to the project. Together, we can redouble our efforts to increase our understanding of the processes that keep our ocean functioning and productive”.
The overarching aims of the CBIOMES project is to characterise, understand and model the organisation of surface ocean microbial communities and their role in regulating global elemental cycles to help improve global models of microbial biogeochemistry; a vital aspect in understanding how the Earth system works and how it is changing.
This multi-disciplinary project involves researchers from the US, Canada and the UK and brings together ecosystem modellers, mathematicians, statisticians, ecologists and molecular biologists. This way the project is able to focus on the same problem from multiple perspectives to reconcile differences and improve understanding of the structure and function of the marine biosphere.
The Simons Collaborations bring together groups of outstanding scientists to address topics of fundamental scientific importance in which a significant new development has created a novel area for exploration in an established field.

Related information

CBIOMES Phase 1 at PML

CBIOMES project website

Simons Collaborations
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