Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Satellite Paints Picture Of World's Oceans Over Last Decade

Date:
September 24, 2007
Source:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Summary:
The NASA-managed Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor instrument settled into orbit around Earth in 1997 and took its first measurements of ocean color. A decade later, the satellite's data has proved instrumental in countless applications and helped researchers paint a picture of a changing climate.

By measuring ocean 'color' experts can quantify, understand, and monitor the biological productivity of a given ocean, coastal, or lake region, that is, the rate by which plants go through photosynthesis and growth, converting carbon dioxide and water to carbon-based biomass.
Credit: Image courtesy of NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

The NASA-managed Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) instrument settled into orbit around Earth in 1997 and took its first measurements of ocean color. A decade later, the satellite's data has proved instrumental in countless applications and helped researchers paint a picture of a changing climate. NASA recognized the satellite's tenth anniversary September 19 with briefings at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

NASA and GeoEye's SeaWiFS instrument has given researchers the first global look at ocean biological productivity. Its data have applications for understanding and monitoring the impacts of climate change, setting pollution standards, and sustaining coastal economies that depend on tourism and fisheries.

"SeaWiFS allows us to observe ocean changes and the mechanisms linking ocean physics and biology, and that's important for our ability to predict the future health of the oceans in a changing climate," said Gene Carl Feldman, SeaWiFS project manager at Goddard.

Researchers used SeaWiFS data to identify factors controlling the unusual timing of the 2005 phytoplankton bloom in the California Current System that led to the die-off of Oregon coast seabirds. The blooming tiny microscopic plants are key indicators of ocean health, form the base of marine food webs, and absorb carbon dioxide -- a major greenhouse gas -- from Earth's atmosphere.

"Long-term observations of the California coast and other sensitive regions is essential to understanding how changing global climate impacted ecosystems in the past, and how it may do so in the future," said Stephanie Henson of the University of Maine, lead author of a study published last month in the American Geophysical Union's "Journal of Geophysical Research -- Oceans." "This type of large-scale, long-term monitoring can only be achieved using satellite instrumentation," she added.

The SeaWiFS instrument orbits Earth fourteen times a day, measuring visible light over every area of cloud-free land and ocean once every 48 hours. The result is a map of Earth with colors spanning the spectrum of visible light. Variations in the color of the ocean, particularly in shades of blue and green, allow researchers to determine how the numbers of the single-celled plants called phytoplankton are distributed in the oceans over space and time.

In other research, Mike Behrenfeld of Oregon State University, Corvallis, Ore., and colleagues were the first to use SeaWiFS to quantify biological changes in the oceans as a response to El Niño, which they described in a landmark 2001 study in Science.

"The 2001 study is significant because it marked the first time that global productivity was measured from a single sensor," said Paula Bontempi, program manager for the Biology and Biogeochemistry Research Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The simplicity of SeaWiFS -- a single sensor designed only to measure ocean color -- has made it the gold standard for all ocean color monitoring instruments."

More recently, Zhiqiang Chen and colleagues at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, showed that SeaWiFS data have direct application for state and federal regulators looking to better define water quality standards. The team reported in "Remote Sensing of Environment" that instead of relying on the infrequent measurements collected from ships or buoys, SeaWiFS data can be used to monitor coastal water quality almost daily, providing managers with a more frequent and complete picture of changes over time.

SeaWiFS has revolutionized our understanding of the ocean's response to environmental change. Here's one example: over the last ten years, the instrument has gathered daily global bio-productivity readings. When coupled with daily sea surface temperature readings over the same time span, we immediately see a relationship between temperature and productivity.

Beyond the realm of ocean observations, however, SeaWiFS has "revolutionized the way people do research," Feldman said. SeaWiFS was one of the first missions to open up data access online to researchers, students and educators around the world. The mission was able to capitalize on advances in data processing and storage technologies and ride the crest of the World Wide Web's growth from its beginning.

When the SeaWiFS program launched in 1997, the goal was to place a sensor in space capable of routinely monitoring ocean color to better understand the interplay between the ocean and atmosphere and most importantly, the ocean's role in the global carbon cycle. A decade later, Feldman said, "SeaWiFS has exceeded everyone's expectations."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "Satellite Paints Picture Of World's Oceans Over Last Decade." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 September 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070919154814.htm>.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2007, September 24). Satellite Paints Picture Of World's Oceans Over Last Decade. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070919154814.htm
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "Satellite Paints Picture Of World's Oceans Over Last Decade." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070919154814.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) — Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) — The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

AFP (July 24, 2014) — Health and agriculture development are key if African countries are to overcome poverty and grow, US software billionaire Bill Gates said Thursday, as he received an honourary degree in Ethiopia. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Higgins Breaks Record at Mt. Washington

Higgins Breaks Record at Mt. Washington

Driving Sports (July 24, 2014) — Subaru Rally Team USA drivers David Higgins and Travis Pastrana face off against a global contingent of racers at the annual Mt. Washington Hillclimb in New Hampshire. Includes exclusive in-car footage from Higgins' record attempt. Video provided by Driving Sports
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:  

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile iPhone Android Web
          Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins