Estimating surface concentrations of Calanus finmarchicus using standardised satellite-derived enhanced RGB imagery

Cait McCarry, Sünnje L. Basedow, Emlyn J. Davies, David McKee

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Calanus finmarchicus is a keystone zooplankton species that is commercially harvested and is critical in sustaining many important fisheries in the North Atlantic. However, due to their patchy population distributions, they are notoriously difficult to map using traditional ship-based techniques. This study involves the use of a combined approach of standardized ocean colour imagery and radiative transfer modelling to identify reflectance anomalies potentially caused by surface swarms of C. finmarchicus in the northern Norwegian Sea. Here, we have standardized satellite eRGB imagery that depicts a distinct ‘red’ patch, which coincides with in situ measurements of high surface concentrations of C. finmarchicus. Anomaly mapping using a novel colour matching technique shows a high degree of anomaly within this patch compared to the surrounding waters, indicating the presence of something other than the standard bio-optical model constituents influencing the optics of the water column. Optical closure between modelled and satellite-derived reflectance signals is achieved (and the anomaly is significantly reduced) through the addition of C. finmarchicus absorption into the model. Estimations of the surface concentrations of C. finmarchicus suggest between 80,000 and 150,000 individuals m−3 within the extent of the identified red patch. Furthermore, analysis of the impact of C. finmarchicus absorption on the OC3M algorithm performance points to the potential for the algorithm to over-estimate chlorophyll concentrations if C. finmarchicus populations are present in the surface waters.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2987
Number of pages22
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2023


  • calanus finmarchicus
  • surface concentrations
  • remote sensing
  • zooplankton
  • fisheries
  • standardized ocean colour imagery
  • reflectance anomalies
  • Norwegian Sea
  • modelling


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