30 Sep 2021

30 Sep 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

Daily to annual net primary production in the North Sea determined using autonomous underwater gliders and satellite Earth observation

Benjamin Loveday1,2, Timothy Smyth1, Anıl Akpinar3, Tom Hull4,6, Mark Inall5, Jan Kaiser6, Bastien Queste7, Matt Tobermann5, Charlotte Williams3, and Matthew Palmer3 Benjamin Loveday et al.
  • 1Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Plymouth, UK
  • 2Innoflair UG, Richard-Wagner-Weg 35, Darmstadt, Germany
  • 3National Oceanography Centre, Liverpool, UK
  • 4Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, Lowestoft, UK
  • 5Scottish Association of Marine Science, Oban, UK
  • 6Centre for Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
  • 7Department of Marine Sciences, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden

Abstract. Shelf-seas play a key role in both the global carbon cycle and coastal marine ecosystems through the drawn-down and fixing of carbon, as measured through phytoplankton net primary production (NPP). Measuring NPP in situ, and extrapolating this to the local, regional and global scale presents challenges however because of limitations with the techniques utilised (e.g. radiocarbon isotopes), data sparsity and the inherent biogeochemical heterogeneity of coastal and open-shelf waters. Here, we introduce a powerful new technique based on the synergistic use of in situ glider profiles and satellite Earth Observation measurements which can be implemented in a real-time or delayed mode system. We apply this system to a fleet of gliders successively deployed over a 19-month time-frame in the North Sea, generating an unprecedented fine scale time-series of NPP in the region (Loveday and Smyth, 2020). At the large-scale, this time-series gives close agreement with existing satellite-based estimates of NPP for the region and previous in situ estimates. What has not been elucidated before is the high-frequency, small-scale, depth-resolved variability associated with bloom phenology, mesoscale phenomena and mixed layer dynamics.

Benjamin Loveday et al.

Status: open (until 28 Nov 2021)

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Benjamin Loveday et al.

Data sets

An Alternative Framework to Assess Marine Ecosystem Functioning in Shelf Seas (AlterEco) Primary productivity estimates derived from ocean glider in situ sensors and photosynthetically available radiation estimates from in situ and satellite data between November 2017 and May 2019 in the North Sea B. R. Loveday and T. Smyth

Benjamin Loveday et al.


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Short summary
Using a new approach to combine autonomous underwater glider data and satellite Earth observations, we have generated a 19-month time-series of North Sea net primary productivity – the rate at which phytoplankton absorbs carbon dioxide, minus that lost through respiration. This time-series, which spans 13 gliders, allows for new investigations into small-scale, high-frequency variability in the biogeochemical processes that underpin the carbon cycle and coastal marine ecosystems in shelf seas.