Phytoplankton Distribution in the Mediterranean Sea based on Ocean Color Data

Mariah Jean Ricci, The College of Saint Scholastica, Dululth, MN, United States, Nicolas Mayot, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, East Boothbay, ME, United States and Nicholas Record, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, East Boothbay, United States

Phytoplankton are essential to ecological and biogeochemical processes and are sensitive to environmental changes. Ongoing climate change and growing anthropogenic pressures are harmfully affecting the Mediterranean Sea. To study the effect on phytoplankton distribution in the Mediterranean basin, two decades (from 1997 to 2017) of satellite chlorophyll-a concentration data from different datasets (combine different satellite sensors and algorithms) were used. By using a statistical clustering method, the spatial patterns in phytoplankton dynamics were obtained. These patterns were more distinct from one another when using datasets in which the inter-sensor bias (from combining data from different satellite sensors) was reduced. Consistent changes over time in the phytoplankton distribution can be observed in the Adriatic and the North Ionian seas, as well as in the Tyrrhenian Sea, despite the satellite dataset used. This work emphasizes how climate changes affect the phytoplankton and could help for future management actions and studies of Mediterranean marine ecosystems.