Abstract

Spectral absorption coefficients of phytoplankton can now be derived, under some assumptions, from hyperspectral ocean color measurements and thus become accessible from space. In this study, multilayer perceptrons have been developed to retrieve information on the pigment composition and size structure of phytoplankton from these absorption spectra. The retrieved variables are the main pigment groups (chlorophylls a, b, c, and photosynthetic and nonphotosynthetic carotenoids) and the relative contributions of three algal size classes (pico-, nano-, and microphytoplankton) to total chlorophyll a. The networks have been trained, tested, and validated using more than 3700 simultaneous absorption and pigment measurements collected in the world ocean. Among pigment groups, chlorophyll a is the most accurately retrieved (average relative errors of 17% and 16% for the test and validation data subsets, respectively), while the poorest performances are found for chlorophyll b (average relative errors of 51% and 40%). Relative contributions of algal size classes to total chlorophyll a are retrieved with average relative errors of 19% to 33% for the test subset and of 18% to 47% for the validation subset. The performances obtained for the validation data, showing no strong degradation with respect to test data, suggest that these neural networks might be operated with similar performances for a large variety of marine areas.

© 2007 Optical Society of America

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