Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans

Bridging ocean color observations of the 1980s and 2000s in search of long-term trends

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Abstract

[1] A comprehensive revision of the Coastal Zone Color Scanner (CZCS) data-processing algorithms has been undertaken to generate a revised level 2 data set from the near-8-year archive (1979–1986) collected during this “proof-of-concept” mission. The final goal of this work is to establish a baseline for a global, multiyear, multisensor ocean color record, to be built from observations of past (i.e., CZCS), present, and future missions. To produce an internally consistent time series, the same revised algorithms also have been applied to the first 5 years of the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) ocean color observations (1998–2002). Such a database is necessary in order to determine whether or not the ocean biogeochemistry has evolved in the past years and, if so, to be able to detect near future trends. Algorithmic and calibration aspects, along with validation results presented in this paper, are tailored toward the identification of long-term trends, which mandated this reprocessing effort. The analysis of decadal changes from the CZCS to the SeaWiFS era shows an overall increase of the world ocean average chlorophyll concentration by about 22%, mainly due to large increases in the intertropical areas, where the seasonal cycles also substantially changed over the past 2 decades. Increases in higher latitudes, where seasonal cycles did not change, contribute to a lesser extent to the general trend. In contrast, oligotrophic gyres display declining concentrations.

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