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Using frequent and long‐term measurements (eight times per day, 2011 to present) from a geostationary satellite sensor (Geostationary Ocean Color Imager, GOCI), this study investigates diurnal changes of cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa blooms (near‐surface high concentrations or surface scums) in Taihu Lake, from which vertical migration patterns could be inferred. After proper atmospheric correction, a cyanobacterial index algorithm is used to quantify equivalent surface cyanobacterial density (σ, 0–100%) at both pixel and synoptic scales from each cloud‐free image, followed by analysis of diurnal changing patterns of σ at both scales. Three typical diurnal changing patterns are identified from all images, which show distinctive and different seasonality from the long‐term statistics. Spatial distributions of the “hotspot” regions where diurnal changes are most often observed have also been established. While the seasonality of the three patterns appears to be a result of seasonality in both temperature and light availability, large blooms only occur 1 d after major wind events. Based on several lines of evidence, we hypothesize that the diurnal changes of such observed surface bloom patterns are likely a result of vertical migration rather than horizontal dissipation/aggregation of cyanobacteria. The mean migration speeds inferred from either a simple model or a radiative transfer model (< 0.03 cm s−1 or < 1 m h−1) are consistent with those reported earlier from laboratory measurements for certain cyanobacteria colony sizes. Complete understanding of the three types of diurnal patterns and direct validation of the hypothesis, however, require further investigations from field measurements.

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Limnology and Oceanography, v. 63, issue 4, p. 1711-1726

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