The goal of the IOCS-2 meeting is to foster exchange between the research community and space agency representatives. The aim is to develop concrete outputs that represent a synthesis of what our community needs in order to carry out state-of-the-art research and applications using ocean colour remote sensing. The breakout sessions (2.5 hours each) will complement the formal scientific program, and will provide an opportunity for extended dialogue and exchange of ideas on a specific topic. There will be a total of 10 breakout sessions (3 to 4 parallel sessions at one time) covering a wide range of topics.

Click the toggles below for more information on each breakout session.

Breakout Session Chair Responsibilities

The session Chair(s) will be responsible for preparing the full session in advance i.e., contacting speakers and defining specific discussion topics to steer the dialogue in the intended direction. The session Chair is expected to give a brief presentation during the Plenary to summarise the outcomes. Furthermore, Session Chairs are expected to provide a sort write up (1-2 pages) synthesizing the discussions and highlighting any recommendations or key messages to be carried forward to the space agencies. These breakout reports will be posted on the meeting website within a week or so, and will also be incorporated into the full report of the meeting.

Remote Sensing of Phytoplankton Composition - Possibilities, Applications and Future Needs

Chairs: Colleen Mouw, Astrid Bracher and Nick Hardman-Mountford

Remote sensing of phytoplankton composition structure indices, including functional types, phytoplankton size classes and particle size distribution has greatly expanded in recent years. Many communities beyond the algorithm developers are interested in engaging with, using and informing this new satellite capability. To set the stage, a review of the strengths and limitations of the current satellite estimates of phytoplankton and particle composition as well as a synthesis of their intercomparison will be presented. However, the focus of the session will on:

  • How current satellite phytoplankton composition products are and could be used in modeling (climate, ecosystem, optical) activities and ecosystem and fisheries management.
  • In situ observational needs and opportunities to support forthcoming satellite capabilities leading to expanded satellite phytoplankton composition algorithm approaches and products.
Benefits and Challenges of Geostationary Ocean Colour Remote Sensing - Science and Applications

Chairs: Antonio Mannino and Maria Tzortziou

Ocean colour (OC) remote sensing from geostationary orbit (geo) provides the capability of high temporal resolution measurements (e.g., <hourly) that can revolutionize the scientific application and societal value of OC data from space. This capability is necessary to study nearshore waters where the physical, biological and chemical processes react on short time scales, and apply observations to monitor coastal water quality indicators, detect and track coastal hazards, and improve assimilation of satellite data into operational models. The Korean GOCI sensor is the only OC instrument to operate in geo. Its success has spawned a follow-­on mission by the Koreans called GOCI-­II. Other geostationary OC missions are in planning stages including NASA’s GEO-­CAPE, the European OCAPI, and others. Despite the advances made with GOCI data, much remains to be resolved to fully utilize OC data from geo. The objectives of this breakout session are to discuss (1) the unique science and applications value of OC observations from a geo-­orbit; (2) the advantages of geostationary OC in combination with OC from polar orbiting sensors and the minimum set of requirements to achieve a quasi-­‐global geostationary OC constellation; (3) key issues to resolve for successful application of geostationary OC data including atmospheric correction, sun-­earth-­sensor geometry, BRDF, sensor pointing stability, etc., and (4) the processes and new products possible from geostationary orbit including the challenges in reducing uncertainties to take full advantage of the high temporal resolution.


We will enlist a panel of experts on the topics listed for each of the session objectives. Each panelist will make a short presentation (~5-­‐10 minutes) to discuss the state-­of-­the-­art on each particular topic followed by an open discussion on all the topics from that panel. Half the time allocated to the session will be dedicated to open discussion.

New applications using very high resolution satellite ocean colour data

Chairs: Kevin Ruddick and Quinten Vanhellemont

The advent of satellite optical sensors providing very high spatial resolution data at low or no cost opens up important new applications for coastal and inland waters. High quality Landsat-­8 data is now available globally and free of charge at 30m resolution (15m panchromatic) and similar data is expected from Sentinel-­‐2/MSI (10m-­‐60m, launch expected 2015). Worldview and Pléiades provide on demand even higher resolution multispectral data, down to 1-­‐2m (even less for panchromatic). These missions, although designed for terrestrial applications, also reveal features and processes in coastal and inland waters worldwide that have been hitherto accessible only to expensive airborne missions.

Emerging applications include the assessment of sediment transport associated with offshore constructions; detection of patchy algae distributions; water quality in estuaries, ports and inland waters; small scale discharges; detection of large marine animals; impact of ships; sub pixel scale effects in medium resolution imagery, etc.

Exploitation of these missions raises new challenges/opportunities including the correction of air-­water interface reflection for spatially-­‐resolved waves, the need to deal with low signal:noise specifications and different spectral band sets.

This breakout session will be structured via short talks (10 mins), introducing each of the following questions as a basis for group discussion:

  • What new marine processes and features can be seen at 10m resolution? At 1m?
  • What new processes and features can be detected in ports, estuaries and inland waters?
  • Who are the future users of such data?
  • What are the processing challenges … and opportunities?
  • What new algorithms will be required?
Tools to harness the potential of Earth observations for water quality reporting and management

Chairs: Blake Schaeffer and Vittorio Brando

Earth observation technology has the potential to accelerate the engagement of communities and managers in the implementation and performance of best management practices. Satellite technology has proven useful in coastal waters, estuaries, lakes, and reservoirs, which are relevant to water quality managers. There is the potential to provide water quality assessments, thus providing new decision analysis methodologies and temporal/spatial diagnostics. Earth observation data provides an opportunity to assess current conditions and trends of these environments in response to key environmental and climatic impacts. However, delivery and communication of management relevant water quality information from earth observation data is typically limited between the scientific community and water quality managers. Water quality managers are identified as anyone who is responsible for protecting the beneficial uses of water and are assumed the primary decision maker in this session. Water quality includes the biological, physical, and chemical characteristics required to maintain beneficial uses. Discussions will range from new decision analysis methodologies, to improved temporal/spatial diagnostics, and environmental reporting tools that may improve the delivery and communication of earth observation data to water quality managers and the public.

Ocean Colour Remote Sensing in High Latitude Areas

Chairs: Emmanuel Devred, Maria Tzortziou, Toru Hirawake, Antonio Mannino, & Rick Reynolds

The Earth’s Polar Seas are crucial for regulating our planet’s climate and are particularly sensitive to global warming. In addition to these regions being critically important to our understanding and modeling of key physical and biogeochemical processes, environmental change in high latitude areas is increasingly affecting society in a variety of ways. Ocean colour remote sensing provides a unique tool for monitoring changes in marine and coastal ecosystems, biology, and biodiversity at relatively low cost and across spatial and temporal scales. The use of space-­‐based ocean colour observations at high-­‐latitude regions, however, is hindered by a number of difficulties and intrinsic limitations. These include winter darkness, low sun elevation, persistence of clouds and fog, pixel ‘contamination’ by ice, specific bio-­optical properties, and small-­scale spatial variability

Despite these challenges, ocean colour remote sensing has provided valuable spatial and temporal large-­‐scale information on the state of the marine ecosystems of the Antarctic and Arctic. This splinter session will offer a forum for discussion of the successes and the different challenges associated with remote sensing of the Southern and Arctic Oceans. In particular the following topics will be addressed: the need for integrative observational and modeling approaches, recent findings from past oceanographic field campaigns, which and where new observations are needed, and possible integration of passive and active remote-­‐sensing observations from various platforms.

This session will build on a new IOCCG Working Group report on Polar Seas to provide future direction and strategies for carrying out state-­of-­the-­art research and applications using ocean colour remote sensing in high latitude areas.

Understanding and Estimating Uncertainty in Ocean Colour Remote Sensing Data and Derived Products

Chairs: Emmanuel Boss, Roland Doerffer, Stephane Maritorena, Frédéric Melin, Kevin Turpie & Jeremy Werdell

Quantifying data uncertainty is a critical part of scientific investigation and application. Estimates of uncertainty are vital to determine whether data support hypotheses, e.g., indicating whether a change or trend is significant. Assigning uncertainty also lets us know whether the information derived from the data is of sufficient quality to support decision-­‐making. Despite the necessity of quantifying uncertainty, most ocean colour products have so far been distributed without associated uncertainty estimates, or with indicators only partially describing uncertainty. This requirement is now well recognized and included in the planning of future missions; it should help supporting user confidence, defining the range of possible applications of data products, favouring the operations of data assimilation in ecological and climate models, or allowing trend analysis in climate research. This breakout meeting will showcase work done towards estimating uncertainty in the field of ocean colour remote sensing, with a focus on standard satellite data products. Characteristics and limitations of each approach will be highlighted, followed by a community discussion on the path forward. The meeting will begin with several talks dealing with the various aspects of uncertainties in ocean colour, from top-­of-­the-‐atmosphere radiometry; to retrieval of remote sensing reflectance (Rrs); to apparent and inherent optical properties and other environmental parameters derived from the Rrs. Techniques for estimating and evaluating uncertainty will also be considered, including approaches that rely on the compilation of validation results, model-­based estimates, class-based techniques, error propagation, or inter-comparison of satellite products. The resulting estimates may have different time and/or space characteristics, rely on various assumptions, and represent different parts of the uncertainty budget. Inherent algorithm uncertainties, algorithm sensitivity, and uncertainty associated with in situ measurements and validation activities, including biases arising from differences in scale between satellite and in situ measurements, are also relevant. Following the talks will be a structured, moderated community discussion about where the community is at about uncertainties in ocean colour and where it needs to go in the future. That discussion should include how the quality of uncertainty estimates can be assessed and in what form they should be distributed to user communities with possibly different requirements for water quality monitoring, assimilation into models or climate research.

Joint Hyperspectral Remote Sensing Breakout Meeting

Chairs: Kevin Turpie, Cecile Rousseaux, Maria Tzortziou, Emmanuel Boss, Michelle Gierach & Sherry Palacios

Part I: Hyperspectral remote sensing technology for aquatic environments
Chairs: Turpie & Rousseaux

Description: Hyperspectral remote sensing is greatly anticipated to transform marine, coastal, estuarine, and inland aquatic research and applications – accelerating efforts to understand and monitor synoptic and global response to climate change in aquatic ecology, biogeochemical cycling, and water quality. In situ and airborne instruments are already being deployed, including imaging and non-­imaging sensors. Airborne hyperspectral imagers are providing valuable, high spatial resolution maps of physical processes and ecosystem structure. Concept spaceborne instruments, such as the Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean (HICO), have provided a glimpse of the next generation spaceborne hysperspectral imagers that will scan the global ocean or closely monitor our coasts from geosynchronous orbit. Still, much of the operational infrastructure to support future spaceborne instruments is still being developed and multiple teams are striving to develop algorithms and computational resources for these missions. This session will explore the progress and challenges common to all hyperspectral remote sensing supporting aquatic science and applications. Topics include updates on current hyperspectral instrument technology and new development; advances in atmospheric correction and retrieval of inherent optical properties from hyperspectral radiometry; and issues of handling data volume, processing, and algorithm support, such as spectral libraries. The session will consist of about six talks followed by a moderated community discussion. This session will establish the foundation for the hyperspectral breakout meeting for focused science and applications.

Part II: Hyperspectral science and applications for shelf and open ocean processes
Chairs: Tzortziou & Boss

Description: Hyperspectral remote sensing offers the research and applications communities an unprecedented opportunity to observe changes in pelagic and neritic ecology, marine biodiversity, biological processes, and biogeochemical cycling. Multispectral ocean colour data have provided a vast increase in knowledge of the oceans and their dynamics over the last two decades. With upcoming missions such as PACE, there is a need to assess applications that can be achieved through the hyperspectral remote sensing of ocean colour as well as its challenges. There is much anticipation that these missions will have a variety of applications, including the observation of the ecological response to climate change, changes in water quality, and processes affecting the oceanic carbon cycle. In this session, we welcome presentations on existing approaches and results from various airborne and satellite sensors including Hyperion, HICO, AVIRIS, as well as presentations on future missions (e.g. PACE, HyspIRI, and GeoCAPE). Topics of interest focus on phytoplankton ecology and ocean

biogeochemistry how hyper-­spectral data can/could improve the state-­of-the-­art. This session on hyperspectral applications follows and complements the hyperspectral remote sensing technology session.

Part III: Hyperspectral Studies of Coastal and Inland Waters
Chairs: Gierach & Palacios

Description: The objective of this session is to address science-­driven questions for coastal and inland waters and provide a venue for how the research and applications community may identify and guide the development of remote sensing resources (in situ, airborne, and satellite) to facilitate the science. Recent advances will be presented on the subjects of biodiversity, habitat ecology, blue carbon, water quality, harmful algal blooms, and human health and safety. The focus of this session will be on the use of spaceborne, airborne, and in situ hyperspectral resources to understand near-­coast, littoral, estuarine, and lacustrine environments, where high spatial and high spectral resolution imagery is needed to understand the mechanisms driving these systems and where problems inherent to atmospheric correction of optically complex waters are particularly acute. This session will showcase recent scientific advances in these environments using hyperspectral imagery, including a series of talks followed by a moderated community discussion. This session on hyperspectral applications follows and complements the hyperspectral remote sensing technology session.

Ecosystems and climate change applications

Chairs: Cara Wilson and Paul DiGiacomo

The use of satellite ocean colour radiometry (OCR) data is rapidly becoming an integral component in efforts to understand, monitor and forecast marine and freshwater ecosystem and biogeochemical dynamics, particularly from the perspective of climate change and other anthropogenic impacts. A robust scientific approach is essential to underpin both research and applications in this context, including the fit for purpose utilization of OCR data in both near-­real time and retrospectively. OCR data is becoming an increasingly valuable tool now that the sustained time-­‐series is approaching its third decade, with continuity of high quality data hopefully assured for the foreseeable future. These OCR data should be complemented by biogeochemical modeling efforts, particularly looking ahead to increasing assimilation of OCR data on a routine basis.

In this context, this session will focus on scientifically-­based applications of OCR data, coupled with model-­based approaches, in assessments of ecosystem and biogeochemical dynamics. There will be a particular emphasis on operational applications and services, including the usage of OCR data and derived products in living marine resource (fisheries et al.) management, habitat characterizations (especially benthic, e.g., coral reefs and submerged aquatic vegetation), integrated ecosystem assessment (IEAs), and ecological forecasting and broader ecosystem services. Specific phenomena and topics of interest to be potentially addressed include ocean acidification and biogeochemical cycling; phenology, food web dynamics and biodiversity; and, eutrophication, hypoxia and harmful algal blooms amongst others.

Satellite Instrument Pre-­ and Post-­Launch Calibration

Chairs: Gerhard Meister and Bertrand Fougnie

The goal of this session is to discuss the current state of the art for on­orbit ocean colour instrument calibration and characterization. The discussion topics include recent and currently on-­going efforts for improving the radiometric accuracy for past, current and future ocean colour sensors. The methods we expect to discuss in this session include on-­orbit approaches such as solar diffuser calibration, lunar calibration, cross-­calibration to other sensors, as well as relevant prelaunch characterization efforts (e.g. regarding temperature or polarization sensitivity, stray-­light, spectral characterization, etc.). We especially want to encourage presentations and discussions regarding calibration related aspects of the on-­‐orbit commissioning phase (e.g. type and frequency of spacecraft manoeuvres, initial sensor characterization measurements, etc.), both from teams actively planning for upcoming sensors as well as lessons learned from established ocean colour sensors.

Note that vicarious calibration approaches using in-­situ measurements are not the primary focus of this session, but could be included to discuss e.g. absolute radiometric characterization uncertainty requirements.

This session is held in the framework of the Ocean Colour Calibration Task Force.

Joint use of Bio-­Argo and ocean colour

The recent progress of bio-­‐optical profiling technology and the increase of the Bio-­Argo float (counterpart of Argo network with a “biological” payload) deployments open the way to a much better description of marine biology. This breakout session deals with the combined use of Bio-­Argo data acquisitions and of ocean colour. On-­going works focus on the capability of inter-validation of the two techniques of observation: this capability could be of great use in the perspective of upcoming ESA ocean colour mission (e.g., OLCI aboard Sentinel 3). The combined use of remote sensing and Bio-­Argo floats is also very important to better classify the types of waters as it offers an enhanced 3-­dimensional view of the marine biology. Thanks to this new perspective, it is soon possible to propose updated climatology (through bioregions approach) and to provide recommendations for an optimized deployment of Bio-­Argo floats.

The proposed breakout session will focus on presentations on:

  • recent progress of the Bio-­Argo technology and deployment;
  • harmonized protocol for sampling and quality control;
  • Research and development on blending (either statistically or through assimilation) EO data and Bio-­Argo data.

These presentations should allow us to start round table discussions on Bio-­Argo deployment strategy and the synergies with ocean colour from space (e.g., strategies for cross validation).

Breakout Session Groupings

If you have not yet registered, please do so at You will be asked which breakout sessions you will attend on that form.

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