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Time scales of pattern evolution from cross-spectrum analysis of advanced very high resolution radiometer and coastal zone color scanner imageryWe have selected square subareas (110 km on a side) from coastal zone color scanner (CZCS) and advanced very high resolution radiometer (AVHRR) images for 1981 in the California Current region off northern California for which we could identify sequences of cloud-free data over periods of days to weeks. We applied a two-dimensional fast Fourier transformation to images after median filtering, (x, y) plane removal, and cosine tapering. We formed autospectra and coherence spectra as functions of a scalar wavenumber. Coherence estimates between pairs of images were plotted against time separation between images for several wide wavenumber bands to provide a temporal lagged coherence function. The temporal rate of loss of correlation (decorrelation time scale) in surface patterns provides a measure of the rate of pattern change or evolution as a function of spatial dimension. We found that patterns evolved (or lost correlation) approximately twice as rapidly in upwelling jets as in the 'quieter' regions between jets. The rapid evolution of pigment patterns (lifetime of about 1 week or less for scales of 50-100 km) ought to hinder biomass transfer to zooplankton predators compared with phytoplankton patches that persist for longer times. We found no significant differences between the statistics of CZCS and AVHRR images (spectral shape or rate of decorrelation). In addition, in two of the three areas studied, the peak correlation between AVHRR and CZCS images from the same area occurred at zero lag, indicating that the patterns evolved simutaneously. In the third area, maximum coherence between thermal and pigment patterns occurred when pigment images lagged thermal images by 1-2 days, mirroring the expected lag of high pigment behind low temperatures (and high nutrients) in recently upwelled water. We conclude that in dynamic areas such as coastal upwelling systems, the phytoplankton cells (identified by pigment color patterns) behave largely as passive scalars at the mesoscale and that growth, death, and sinking of phytoplankton collectively play at most a mariginal role in determining the spectral statistics of the pigment patterns.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
External Source(s)
Denman, Kenneth L.
(Inst. of Ocean Sciences Sidney, British Columbia, Canada)
Abbott, Mark R.
(Oregon State Univ. Corvallis, OR, United States)
Date Acquired
August 16, 2013
Publication Date
April 15, 1994
Publication Information
Publication: Journal of Geophysical Research
Volume: 99
Issue: C4
ISSN: 0148-0227
Subject Category
Accession Number
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