Wind speed and mesoscale features drive net autotrophy in the South Atlantic Ocean

Daniel Ford, Gavin H. Tilstone, Jamie D. Shutler, Vassilis Kitidis, Polina Lobanova, Jill Schwarz, Alex J. Poulton, Pablo Serret, Tarron Lamont, Mateus Chuqui, Ray Barlow, Jose Lozano, Milton Kampel, Frederico Brandini

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3 Citations (Scopus)
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A comprehensive in situ dataset of chlorophyll a (Chl a; N = 18,001), net primary production (NPP; N = 165) and net community production (NCP; N = 95), were used to evaluate the performance of Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on Aqua (MODIS-A) algorithms for these parameters, in the South Atlantic Ocean, to facilitate the accurate generation of satellite NCP time series. For Chl a, five algorithms were tested using MODIS-A data, and OC3-CI performed best, which was subsequently used to compute NPP. Of three NPP algorithms tested, a Wavelength Resolved Model (WRM) was the most accurate, and was therefore used to estimate NCP with an empirical relationship between NCP with NPP and sea surface temperature (SST). A perturbation analysis was deployed to quantify the range of uncertainties introduced in satellite NCP from input parameters. The largest reductions in the uncertainty of satellite NCP came from MODIS-A derived NPP using the WRM (40%) and MODIS-A Chl a using OC3-CI (22%).

The most accurate NCP algorithm, was used to generate a 16 year time series (2002 to 2018) from MODIS-A to assess climate and environmental drivers of NCP across the South Atlantic basin. Positive correlations between wind speed anomalies and NCP anomalies were observed in the central South Atlantic Gyre (SATL), and the Benguela Upwelling (BENG), indicating that autotrophic conditions may be fuelled by local wind-induced nutrient inputs to the mixed layer. Sea Level Height Anomalies (SLHA), used as an indicator of mesoscale eddies, were negatively correlated with NCP anomalies offshore of the BENG upwelling fronts into the SATL, suggesting autotrophic conditions are driven by mesoscale features. The Agulhas bank and Brazil-Malvinas confluence regions also had a strong negative correlation between SLHA and NCP anomalies, similarly indicating that NCP is forced by mesoscale eddy generation in this region. Positive correlations between SST anomalies and the Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) in the SATL, indicated the influence of El Niño events on the South Atlantic Ocean, however the plankton community response was less clear.
Original languageEnglish
Article number112435
JournalRemote Sensing of Environment
Early online date28 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Environmental drivers
  • Ocean colour
  • Ocean metabolism
  • South Atlantic Ocean
  • in situ uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Geology
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


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