Towards better estimates of chlorophyll concentration and phytoplankton physiological status from autonomous platforms

The Research Project

Quantifying the distribution and variability of phytoplankton abundance in the global oceans is a formidable challenge that has generated numerous instruments and approaches – all with their respective advantages and disadvantages. In the Southern Ocean, cloud cover frequently hampers satellite assessment of chlorophyll concentrations (Chl), and fluorescence sensors mounted on autonomous platforms may overestimate chlorophyll concentrations by up to a factor 8 (Roesler et al. 2017, L&O Methods, 15(6), 572-585). Confident estimates of global ocean productivity are similarly hampered by a lack of information regarding the physiological status of phytoplankton.

In this project, the successful candidate will explore data from optical instruments on moorings and biogeochemical Argo floats as well as satellites to improve estimates of Chl and of the physiological status of phytoplankton in the Subantarctic Southern Ocean. Most of the work is based on existing data, but oceanographic field work is a possible component of this project.

Principal supervisor

  • Dr Christina Schallenberg (IMAS)
  • Dr Bozena Mojtasiewicz (CSIRO)
  • Dr Jenny Lovell (CSIRO)
  • Professor Peter Strutton (IMAS)
  • First-class Honours or Masters equivalent research in a quantitative physical or biological science or engineering
  • High level of programming experience, preferably in Matlab, R or Python
  • Interest in ocean optics and phytoplankton photophysiology
  • Demonstrated proficiency in written and verbal English language
  • Familiarity with ocean biogeochemistry

See the following web page for entry requirements:

Application Process

Applicants who require more information or are interested in this specific project should first contact the listed Supervisor. Information and guidance on the application process can be found on the Apply Now website.

Information about scholarships is available on the Scholarships webpage.

More Information

Please contact, Christina Schallenberg for further information.

Authorised by the Executive Director, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
March 4, 2022