Ocean Color and Earth Science Data Records
Abstract:The development of consistent, high quality time series of biogeochemical products from a single ocean color sensor is a difficult task that involves many aspects related to pre- and post-launch instrument calibration and characterization, stability monitoring and the removal of the contribution of the atmosphere which represents most of the signal measured at the sensor. It is even more challenging to build Climate Data Records (CDRs) or Earth Science Data Records (ESDRs) from multiple sensors as design, technology and methodologies (bands, spectral/spatial resolution, Cal/Val, algorithms) differ from sensor to sensor.
NASA MEaSUREs, ESA Climate Change Initiative (CCI) and IOCCG Virtual Constellation are some of the underway efforts that investigate or produce ocean color CDRs or ESDRs from the recent and current global missions (SeaWiFS, MODIS, MERIS). These studies look at key aspects of the development of unified data records from multiple sensors, e.g. the concatenation of the “best” individual records vs. the merging of multiple records or band homogenization vs. spectral diversity. The pros and cons of the different approaches are closely dependent upon the overall science purpose of the data record and its temporal resolution. While monthly data are generally adequate for biogeochemical modeling or to assess decadal trends, higher temporal resolution data records are required to look into changes in phenology or the dynamics of phytoplankton blooms. Similarly, short temporal resolution (daily to weekly) time series may benefit more from being built through the merging of data from multiple sensors while a simple concatenation of data from individual sensors might be better suited for longer temporal resolution (e.g. monthly time series).
Several Ocean Color ESDRs were developed as part of the NASA MEaSUREs project. Some of these time series are built by merging the reflectance data from SeaWiFS, MODIS-Aqua and Envisat-MERIS in a semi-analytical ocean color model that generates both merged reflectance and merged biogeochemical products. The benefits and limitations of this merging approach to develop ESDRs will be presented and discussed along with those of alternative approaches.