Variability in light absorption and scattering of phytoplankton in Patagonian waters: Role of community size structure and pigment composition

TitleVariability in light absorption and scattering of phytoplankton in Patagonian waters: Role of community size structure and pigment composition
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsFerreira A, Stramski D, Garcia CAE, Garcia VMT, Ciotti AM, Mendes CRB
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research-Oceans
Date Published2013/02
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0148-0227
Accession NumberWOS:000317840700009
Keywordsbackscattering; beam attenuation coefficient; biooptical properties; chlorophyll-a; coefficients; mediterranean sea; natural phytoplankton; optical-properties; south-pacific ocean; spectral absorption; surface ocean

Intense phytoplankton blooms were observed along the Patagonian shelf-break with satellite ocean color data, but few in situ optical observations were made in that region. We examine the variability of phytoplankton absorption and particulate scattering coefficients during such blooms on the basis of field data. The chlorophyll-a concentration, [Chla], ranged from 0.1 to 22.3 mg m(-3) in surface waters. The size fractionation of [Chla] showed that 80% of samples were dominated by nanophytoplankton (N-group) and 20% by microphytoplankton (M-group). Chlorophyll-specific phytoplankton absorption coefficients at 440 and 676 nm, a(ph)*(440) and a(ph)*(676), and particulate scattering coefficient at 660 nm, b(p)*(660), ranged from 0.018 to 0.173, 0.009 to 0.046, and 0.031 to 2.37m(2) (mg Chla) (1), respectively. Both a(ph)*(440) and a(ph)*(676) were statistically higher for the N-group than M-group and also considerably higher than expected from global trends as a function of [Chla]. This result suggests that size of phytoplankton cells in Patagonian waters tends to be smaller than in other regions at similar [Chla]. The phytoplankton cell size parameter, S-f, derived from phytoplankton absorption spectra, proved to be useful for interpreting the variability in the data around the general inverse dependence of a(ph)*(440), a(ph)*(676), and b(p)*(660) on [Chla]. S-f also showed a pattern along the increasing trend of a(ph)*(440) and a(ph)*(676) as a function of the ratios of some accessory pigments to [Chla]. Our results suggest that the variability in phytoplankton absorption and scattering coefficients in Patagonian waters is caused primarily by changes in the dominant phytoplankton cell size accompanied by covariation in the concentrations of accessory pigments.

Short TitleJ Geophys Res-Oceans
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