Satellite Remote Sensing of Chlorophyll: Significance of PAR & Spatial Scale
Engel, Eric A.
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[Author's abstract] Satellite remote sensing is used worldwide in many different sectors of science. The advent of remote sensing allows a global database of daily information. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Moderate Resolution imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Aqua satellite is an example of a satellite currently collecting the reflected wavelength energy from the earth. The MODIS Aqua satellite records wavelength data down to the 1% photosynthetically available depth (0.1 PAR depth) of the water column, a vital component in the estimation of chlorophyll. If 0.1 PAR depth is shallow, leaving chlorophyll beneath un-recorded, there may be a under-representation of phytoplankton by the satellite. Conversely, colored suspended solids in surface waters may reflect similar wavelengths as chlorophyll creating an overestimation of total phytoplankton. This project examined the role of 0.1 PAR depth in the estimation of chlorophyll by satellites in the Eastern Tropical North Pacific (ETNP). The project affirmed that remotely sensed data is a tool that can be used to get a generalized picture of any place, but may misrepresent any spatially minute location.