Crédits image, NASA
Department of Earth Sciences
Oxford University, UK
Phytoplankton pigments and their optical properties: a spectrum of opportunities
The concentration of the ubiquitous pigment chlorophyll-a is arguably the most measured biological variable in the field of oceanography. Yet in addition to chlorophyll-a, marine phytoplankton contain a suite of accessory pigments with characteristic light absorption properties that allows us to detect changes in both the quantity and quality of phytoplankton biomass in response to environmental forcing. This talk will present examples from the subtropical ocean and polar seas to illustrate how phytoplankton pigments and their optical signatures can detect spatial and temporal shifts in key phytoplankton functional groups and their photoacclimatory status. The potential use of light absorption spectra as novel ecosystem indicators is discussed.
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