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Remote Sens. 2014, 6(4), 2963-2988; doi:10.3390/rs6042963
Article

ESA-MERIS 10-Year Mission Reveals Contrasting Phytoplankton Bloom Dynamics in Two Tropical Regions of Northern Australia

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Received: 2 September 2013; in revised form: 4 March 2014 / Accepted: 19 March 2014 / Published: 1 April 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Phytoplankton)
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Abstract: The spatial and temporal variability of phytoplankton blooms was investigated in two tropical coastal regions of northern Australia using the MEdium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) full mission (2002–2012) reduced resolution dataset. Satellite-derived proxies for phytoplankton (Chlorophyll-a (Chl), Fluorescence Line Height (FLH), Maximum Chlorophyll Index (MCI)) and suspended sediment (Total Suspended Matter (TSM)) were jointly analyzed for two clusters of the Great Barrier Reef Wet tropics (GBRW; 15°–19.5°S; Queensland) and the Van Diemen Gulf (VDG; 9°–13°S; Northern Territory). The analysis of time-series and Hovmöller diagrams of the four MERIS products provided a unique perspective on the processes linking phytoplankton blooms and river runoff, or resuspension, across spatio-temporal scales. Both regions are characterized by a complex oceanography and seasonal inflows of sediment, freshwater and nutrients during the tropical wet season months (November to April). The GBRW is characterized by a great variability in water clarity (Secchi depth 0–25 m). A long history of agricultural land use has led to a large increase in the seasonal discharge of sediments and nutrients, triggering seasonal phytoplankton blooms (>0.4 mg∙m−3) between January and April. In contrast, the VDG is a poorly flushed, turbid (Secchi depth <5 m) environment with strong tidal-energy (4–8 m) and very limited land use. Phytoplankton blooms here were found to have higher Chl concentrations (>1.0 mg∙m−3) than in the GBRW, occurring up to twice a year between January and April. Over the 10-year MERIS mission, a weak decline in Chl and TSM was observed for the VDG (Sen slope: −2.85%/decade, τ = −0.32 and −3.57%/decade, τ = −0.24; p 0.05), while no significant trend in those two satellite products was observed in the GBRW. Cyanobacteria surface algal blooms occur in both regions between August and October. The MCI and FLH products were found to adequately complement Chl, while TSM provided relevant insight for the assessment of sediment resuspension and river runoff.
Keywords: phytoplankton; spatio-temporal patterns; MERIS; FLH; MCI; Great Barrier Reef; Van Diemen Gulf; tropical waters; wet tropics phytoplankton; spatio-temporal patterns; MERIS; FLH; MCI; Great Barrier Reef; Van Diemen Gulf; tropical waters; wet tropics
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Blondeau-Patissier, D.; Schroeder, T.; Brando, V.E.; Maier, S.W.; Dekker, A.G.; Phinn, S. ESA-MERIS 10-Year Mission Reveals Contrasting Phytoplankton Bloom Dynamics in Two Tropical Regions of Northern Australia. Remote Sens. 2014, 6, 2963-2988.

AMA Style

Blondeau-Patissier D, Schroeder T, Brando VE, Maier SW, Dekker AG, Phinn S. ESA-MERIS 10-Year Mission Reveals Contrasting Phytoplankton Bloom Dynamics in Two Tropical Regions of Northern Australia. Remote Sensing. 2014; 6(4):2963-2988.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Blondeau-Patissier, David; Schroeder, Thomas; Brando, Vittorio E.; Maier, Stefan W.; Dekker, Arnold G.; Phinn, Stuart. 2014. "ESA-MERIS 10-Year Mission Reveals Contrasting Phytoplankton Bloom Dynamics in Two Tropical Regions of Northern Australia." Remote Sens. 6, no. 4: 2963-2988.


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