Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Marine Science

Major Professor

Frank Muller-Karger, Ph.D.


Chlorophyll-a, Color dissolved organic matter, West Florida Shelf, Phytoplankton absorption, Remote sensing reflectance, Bottom reflectance, Chlorophyll specific absorption, Seawifs, Cyclonic and anticyclonic eddies, Pigment composition, Red tide, El niño


The objective of this dissertation is to gain a better understanding of the environmental and climatic effects on the temporal and spatial variability of phytoplankton biomass along the West Florida Shelf. Chapter 1 examines temporal and spatial patterns in chlorophyll concentrations using satellite data collected between 1997 and 2003. Chlorophyll data derived from the SeaWiFS sensor are validated with in-situ data and analyzed. Wind, current, sea surface temperature, river, and rain data are used to better understand the factors responsible for the patterns observed in the satellite data. My question is whether the standard OC4 algorithm is adequate for studying short-term variability of chlorophyll concentrations along the WFS. I will examine temporal and spatial trends using the OC4 and compare them to the Carder semianalytical algorithm which uses remote sensing reflectances at 412nm, 443nm, 490nm,and 555nm to estimate chlorophyll concentrations separately from CDOM estimates. In Chapters 2 and 3 the potential problems due to CDOM and bottom reflectance are examined. In Chapter 2 I analyze the influence of riverine induced CDOM. Water leaving radiances are analyzed in an effort to discriminate true chlorophyll patterns from CDOM contaminated signals. Chapter 3 examines the impact of bottom reflectance on the satellite signal by using the percentage of remote sensing reflectance at a wavelength of 555 to differentiate between optically shallow waters and optically deep waters. Optically shallow waters are defined as those with the percentage of Rrs at 555 due to bottom reflectance greater than or equal to 25 percent, while optically deep waters have percent bottom reflectance less than or equal to 25 percent. These analyses will help assess the validity of the temporal and spatial patterns ofchlorophyll concentration observed with the SeaWiFS data described in Chapter 1.