McClain, CR, Christian, JR, Signorini, SR, Lewis, MR, Asanuma, I, Turk, D, Dupouy-Douchement, C (2002). Satellite ocean-color observations of the tropical Pacific Ocean. DEEP-SEA RESEARCH PART II-TOPICAL STUDIES IN OCEANOGRAPHY, 49(13-14), 2533-2560.
The Coastal Zone Color Scanner (CZCS) data set provided some insights into biological processes in the equatorial Pacific, but the sampling was too sparse to address questions on temporal and spatial variability. Since late 1996, the Ocean Color-Temperature Sensor (OCTS), the Polarization Detection Environmental Radiometer (POLDER), the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-View Sensor (SeaWiFS), and the Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) have provided a nearly continuous record of biological processes in this region for the first time. This study summarizes the SeaWiFS observations of the tropical Pacific from September 1997 through March 2000, with particular emphasis on equatorial and mesoscale variability, the influence of biological processes on penetrating irradiance, and the performance of primary production algorithms in this region. Specific mesoscale phenomena described are the phytoplankton blooms along the west coast of Central America, in the vicinity of the Costa Rica dome, and south of the equator. The coastal Central American and Costa Rica dome blooms result from orographically steered coastal winds and Ekman divergence, respectively. An unusual bloom event occurred south of the equator and persisted for several months in 1999; specific mechanisms that would have sustained the bloom could not be identified. Also, the time-evolution of the equatorial bloom during the May August 1998 transition from El Nino to La Nina is discussed. Again, no concise and broadly accepted explanation of the bloom's genesis and migration has yet emerged. During this transition, the monthly mean diffuse attenuation coefficient decreased by a factor of 3 at some locations along the equator. This change in water transparency, coupled with large changes in mixed-layer depth, resulted in significant changes in surface layer heating rates that were substantiated with field observations. Finally, certain primary production algorithms designed to use remotely sensed chlorophyll-a concentrations are evaluated. None of the algorithms capture the observed variability in primary production, and all appear to underestimate the total primary production of the tropical Pacific. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.