|COMMUNITY WHITE PAPER||10.5270/OceanObs09.cwp.81|
Optical Plankton Imaging and Analysis Systems for Ocean Observation
Michael E. Sieracki(1), Mark Benfield(2), Allen Hanson(3), Cabell Davis(4), Cynthia H. Pilskaln(5), David Checkley(6), Heidi M. Sosik(4), Carin Ashjian(4), Philip Culverhouse(7), Robert Cowen(8), Rubens Lopes(9), William Balch(1), Xabier Irigoien(10)
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Digital images of suspended particles in aquatic systems can reveal abundances, size spectra, and biomass distributions of planktonic organisms and non-living particles. Modern imaging systems are capable of recording the contents of defined volumes of water at high rates. In response to the need to analyze large image datasets, image analysis software and hardware are emerging as powerful tools for identifying the contents of images. Morphology combined with intrinsic image features can be used to identify phytoplankton and zooplankton organisms to genus in many cases. Moreover, many harmful algal species can be tentatively identified by morphology, providing potential sentinel early-warning systems for harmful blooms in coastal waters. Systems could be imagined that would alert experts to the presence of unknown biodiversity, indicative of new or invasive species. Size spectra of non-living particles and marine snow can be used to calculate vertical flux of material in the oceans. Many towed, moored, and drifting imaging systems have been developed in recent years for these purposes. These sensor systems are relatively complex compared to many physical and chemical sensors. They have high power requirements for illumination light sources, optical detectors, and computation, and require high bandwidth and/or data storage for the digital images themselves. High-powered image analysis and classification algorithms are needed to convert the high volume of digital image data to significant knowledge about the distributions and size spectra of the particles/organisms. We believe this technology will be important for monitoring ocean health in the future, and significant development effort is needed to make these systems more practical and robust for the coming ocean observing systems. This has been the focus of a recently-formed SCOR (Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research) Working Group (WG 130). This white paper will describe the state-of-the-art and indicate best avenues for rapid, efficient development of the technology with specific application for ocean observing.
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This paper shall be cited as:
Sieracki, M. & Co-Authors (2010). "Optical Plankton Imaging and Analysis Systems for Ocean Observation" in Proceedings of OceanObs’09: Sustained Ocean Observations and Information for Society (Vol. 2), Venice, Italy, 21-25 September 2009, Hall, J., Harrison, D.E. & Stammer, D., Eds., ESA Publication WPP-306, doi:10.5270/OceanObs09.cwp.81
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