Satellite radiation products for ocean biology and biogeochemistry: Needs, state-of-the-art, gaps, development priorities, and opportunities
Abstract: Knowing the spatial and temporal distribution of the underwater light field, i.e., the spectral and angular structure of the radiant intensity at any point in the water column, is essential to understanding the biogeochemical processes that control the composition and evolution of aquatic ecosystems and their impact on climate and reaction to climate change. At present, only a few properties are reliably retrieved from space, either directly or via water-leaving radiance. Existing satellite products are limited to planar photosynthetically available radiation (PAR) and ultraviolet (UV) irradiance above the surface and diffuse attenuation coefficient. Examples of operational products are provided, and their advantages and drawbacks are examined. The usefulness and convenience of these products notwithstanding, there is a need, as expressed by the user community, for other products, i.e., sub-surface planar and scalar fluxes, average cosine, spectral fluxes (UV to visible), diurnal fluxes, absorbed fraction of PAR by live algae (APAR), surface albedo, vertical attenuation, and heating rate, and for associating uncertainties to any product on a pixel-by-pixel basis. Methodologies to obtain the new products are qualitatively discussed in view of most recent scientific knowledge and current and future satellite missions, and specific algorithms are presented for some new products, namely sub-surface fluxes and average cosine. A strategy and roadmap (short, medium, and long term) for usage and development priorities is provided, taking into account needs and readiness level. Combining observations from satellites overpassing at different times and geostationary satellites should be pursued to improve the quality of daily-integrated radiation fields, and products should be generated without gaps to provide boundary conditions for general circulation and biogeochemical models. Examples of new products, i.e., daily scalar PAR below the surface, daily average cosine for PAR, and sub-surface spectral scalar fluxes are presented. A procedure to estimate algorithm uncertainties in the total uncertainty budget for above-surface daily PAR, based on radiative simulations for expected situations, is described. In the future, space-borne lidars with ocean profiling capability offer the best hope for improving our knowledge of sub-surface fields.