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NASA celebrates a decade observing climate impacts on health of world's oceans
Date:9/19/2007

day, measuring visible light over every area of cloud-free land and ocean once every 48 hours. The result is a map of Earth with colors spanning the spectrum of visible light. Variations in the color of the ocean, particularly in shades of blue and green, allow researchers to determine how the numbers of the single-celled plants called phytoplankton are distributed in the oceans over space and time.

In other research, Mike Behrenfeld of Oregon State University, Corvallis, Ore., and colleagues were the first to use SeaWiFS to quantify biological changes in the oceans as a response to El Nio, which they described in a landmark 2001 study in Science.

"The 2001 study is significant because it marked the first time that global productivity was measured from a single sensor," said Paula Bontempi, program manager for the Biology and Biogeochemistry Research Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The simplicity of SeaWiFS a single sensor designed only to measure ocean color has made it the gold standard for all ocean color monitoring instruments."

More recently, Zhiqiang Chen and colleagues at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, showed that SeaWiFS data have direct application for state and federal regulators looking to better define water quality standards. The team reported in "Remote Sensing of Environment" that instead of relying on the infrequent measurements collected from ships or buoys, SeaWiFS data can be used to monitor coastal water quality almost daily, providing managers with a more frequent and complete picture of changes over time.

Beyond the realm of ocean observations, however, SeaWiFS has "revolutionized the way people do research," Feldman said. SeaWiFS was one of the first missions to open up data access online to researchers, students and educators around the world. The mission was able to capitalize on advances in data processing and storage technologies and ride the crest of the World Wide
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Contact: Lynn Chandler
lynn.chandler-1@nasa.gov
301-286-2806
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Source:Eurekalert

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