Hi, I'm Rob. I'm a Satellite Oceanographer.
My expertise is in ocean remote sensing focusing on the analysis of ocean colour and sea-surface temperature satellite and airborne imagery. For the last little while my work has been focused on the use and development of tailored satellite remote sensing models in the detection and quantification of Marine microbes.
Marine microbes are the linchpin of the marine ecosystem. Nevertheless, until the advent of satellite-based ocean remote sensing their global influence was not fully appreciated. Phytoplankton make up < 1% of the photosynthesizing biomass on Earth and yet undertake ~ 50% of the Earth’s primary production. This incommensurate contribution to the global carbon cycle makes these tiny marine organisms as important as all the plants on land combined. Unlike land plants, the physical size and cosmopolitan distribution of phytoplankton inhibit large- scale direct observation and therefore ocean remote sensing has evolved as the most practical way to estimate chlorophyll concentrations (a proxy for phytoplankton biomass), primary production rates and other biogeochemical properties in the surface ocean.
While the remote sensing of marine microbes has been described as a landmark achievement in the history of oceanography there is still much left to be uncovered and achieved. Optically complex waters - like the coastal ocean and Southern Ocean - are areas that have recently drawn my attention.