A comparison of methods to determine phytoplankton bloom initiation
Phytoplankton bloom phenology has important consequences for marine ecosystems and fisheries. Recent studies have used remotely sensed ocean color data to calculate metrics associated with the phenological cycle, such as the phytoplankton bloom initiation date, on regional and global scales. These metrics are often linked to physical or biological forcings. Most studies choose one of several common methods for calculating bloom initiation, leading to questions about whether bloom initiation dates calculated with different methods yield comparable results. Here we compare three methods for finding the date of phytoplankton bloom initiation in the North Atlantic: a biomass-based threshold method, a rate of change method, and a cumulative biomass-based threshold method. We use these methods to examine whether the onset of positive ocean-atmosphere heat fluxes coincides with subpolar bloom initiation. In several coherent locations, we find differences in the patterns of bloom initiation created by each method and differences in the synchrony between bloom initiation and positive heat fluxes, which likely indicate various physical processes at play in the study region. We also assess the effect of missing data on the chosen methods. Key PointsDifferent methods of calculating bloom start dates produced different results.Each method identified the bloom as a different part of the chlorophyll cycle.The onset of positive heat fluxes coincides with the phytoplankton bloom. ©2013. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.
Brody, SR; Lozier, MS; Dunne, JP
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