Observations of chromophoric dissolved and detrital organic matter distribution using remote sensing in the Southern Ocean: Validation, dynamics and regulation

E. Ortega-Retuerta*, D. A. Siegel, N. B. Nelson, C. M. Duarte, I. Reche

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Chromophoric dissolved and detrital organic matter (CDM), the optically active fraction of organic matter, affects significantly the underwater light environment and interferes with ocean color algorithms. Here, we studied the distribution and dynamics of CDM in waters around the Antarctic Peninsula, Southern Ocean, using remotely sensed data in austral summers from 1997 to 2005. First, we validated the global semi-analytic algorithm Garver-Siegel-Maritorena (GSM) by comparing simultaneous field and satellite measurements of CDM. These comparisons confirmed the validity of CDM satellite measurements obtained by the GSM algorithm (r2=0.74, slope value=1.01±0.16, n=15).We found a higher (20%) contribution of detrital particles to the CDM signal compared to other studies in lower latitudes (average 12%). Patches of higher CDM were observed in coastal areas and zones with recent ice melting. The seasonal variability of CDM, with maximum values at the end of austral summer, appeared to be ultimately controlled by the dynamics of ice, both directly and indirectly through the growth of phytoplankton and other organisms which are potential sources of CDM. At an interannual timescale, CDM dynamics may be driven by climatic forcing such as the Antarctic Oscillation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-303
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Marine Systems
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We gratefully thank K.W. Patterson and the SeaBass database, particularly B.G. Mitchell, PI of AMLR cruises, for CDOM and detrital absorption data, and D. Thomas for CDOM data on ice. AAO Index data were obtained from NOAA/National Weather Service. We also acknowledge S. Maritorena and E. Fields for assistance in data and image processing, and the responsible editor and two anonymous referees for insightful comments in a previous version of this MS. This work was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology (ICEPOS, REN2002-04165-CO3-02 to CMD and DISPAR, CGL2005-00076 to IR) E. O.-R. was supported by fellowships from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Education and the University of Granada .


  • Antarctic peninsula
  • Chromophoric dissolved organic matter
  • Detrital absorption
  • Ocean color
  • Remote sensing
  • Southern ocean

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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