Abstract

Phytoplankton cell size is an important property that affects diverse ecological and biogeochemical processes, and analysis of the absorption and scattering spectra of phytoplankton can provide important information about phytoplankton size. In this study, an inversion method for extracting quantitative phytoplankton cell size data from these spectra was developed. This inversion method requires two inputs: chlorophyll a specific absorption and scattering spectra of phytoplankton. The average equivalent-volume spherical diameter (ESDv) was calculated as the single size approximation for the log-normal particle size distribution (PSD) of the algal suspension. The performance of this method for retrieving cell size was assessed using the datasets from cultures of 12 phytoplankton species. The estimations of a(λ) and b(λ) for the phytoplankton population using ESDv had mean error values of 5.8%–6.9% and 7.0%–10.6%, respectively, compared to the a(λ) and b(λ) for the phytoplankton populations using the log-normal PSD. The estimated values of CiESDv were in good agreement with the measurements, with r2=0.88 and relative root mean square error (NRMSE)=25.3%, and relatively good performances were also found for the retrieval of ESDv with r2=0.78 and NRMSE=23.9%.

© 2017 Optical Society of America

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