National Physical Laboratory

Fiducial Reference Measurements for Satellite Ocean Colour (FRM4SOC)

Satellite image of an algal bloom in the Baltic Sea (Image source: ESA, Sentinel 2 MSI; Copyright: Copernicus Sentinel data (2015)/ESA)
Satellite image of an algal bloom in the Baltic Sea
(Image source: ESA, Sentinel 2 MSI; Copyright: Copernicus Sentinel data (2015)/ESA)

FRM4SOC will work towards ensuring that the ESA Sentinel satellite measurements of ocean colour (MSI on Sentinel 2 and OLCI on Sentinel 3) are of the highest quality possible, and the setting up of protocols for an ongoing reference measurement system for satellite ocean colour.

Ocean colour is one of the Global Climate Observing System's essential climate variables, providing estimates of phytoplankton distribution and biomass, and therefore important for monitoring the health of the ocean and impacts that climate change is having on the marine environment; including the ocean's crucial role in the global carbon cycle. More than ever, measurements from satellites are being used in applications for climate change monitoring and so it is essential that the integrity of these measurements is maintained to international standards.

NPL is a key partner of FRM4SOC, providing the 'fiducial' component of the project. Fiducial means 'a fixed basis of comparison' or 'origin of a frame of reference' and NPL's cryogenic radiometer, which is the primary standard for optical measurement, serves as that SI-traceable origin for the ocean colour measurements. As well as running source intercomparisons for ocean colour radiometry, NPL will also undertake a detailed end to end uncertainty analysis for all the measurements during FRM4SOC.

The FRM4SOC consortium includes experts in ocean colour from the UK (National Physical Laboratory and Plymouth Marine Laboratory), Belgium (Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences) and France (ACRI-ST) with coordination from Estonia (Tartu Observatory), as well as expert advisors from the European Commission (JRC) and the International Ocean Colour Coordinating Group (IOCCG).

Funding source: European Space Agency (ESA)

Contact: Andrew Banks

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