Review of the Training Course on Remote Sensing of Ocean Colour

September 2000
Erdemli, Turkey

By: Louisa Watts

Lecture Notes from this Course are also available.


One of the main objectives of the IOCCG is to broaden the user community for ocean colour data. An effective way to achieve this is by providing training courses and workshops that encourage the exchange of knowledge between specialists in the field and students. From 11th to 22nd September 2000 such a training course on Remote Sensing of Ocean Colour was successfully held at the Institute of Marine Sciences, Middle East Technical University (METU), in Turkey. Located at İçel-Erdemli, on the Mediterranean coast, the Institute proved to be an impressive forum. Local organisers Drs. Ilkay Salihoglu (director of METU), Sukru Besiktepe (METU) and Aysen Yilmaz (METU) co-ordinated logistics, ensuring that all computing, lecturing and laboratory requirements were met, including extensive photocopying demands! In addition to this, they organised a one-day oceanographic cruise aboard the Institute's Research Vessel, the RV Bilim that proved to be very much a highlight of the course (see below). They certainly affected the smooth-running of the course and were exceptional hosts.

Lectures aboard the RV Bilum


Sponsorship for the course came from the IOCCG, the NATO Science for Peace Sub-Programme, METU and the Turkish Scientific and Technical Research Council (TUBITAK). This funding enabled thirty students and twelve lecturers from a total of fourteen different countries to participate in the course. Students were drawn predominantly from countries surrounding the Black Sea: (Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia) with a few additional students from Azerbaijan, Lebanon, Italy, Oman and Morocco. Lecturers were invited from Turkey, Australia, USA, Russia and Canada to cover a range of disciplines fundamental to ocean-colour studies. The full list of participants and their contact details are also available.

Aim of Training Course

The main aim of the course was to provide the students with a basic grounding in the principles underlying remote-sensing techniques of ocean colour plus the experience and confidence to implement such techniques back in their home institutions. To this end, the course consisted of two components; a theoretical and a practical component. The general pattern consisted of lectures in the mornings followed by practical sessions in the afternoons, although the second week of the course certainly concentrated more on the hands-on side of the course.

The theoretical component comprised an intensive series of lectures covering a wide range of topics: regional oceanography and meteorology of the Black Sea/Mediterranean area; fundamentals of remote-sensing; radiative transfer in the oceans; oceanic optical properties and various models; bio-optical algorithms; pigment optical properties; modelling reflected solar radiation; atmospheric correction algorithms; nutrients and productivity in the marine environment; productivity estimation from space platforms; and calibration, validation and interpretation of satellite data and model predictions;

Workshop Program

The practical component comprised a series of carefully designed hands-on activities made up of several contributions:

Intensive training sessions were provided on the use of SeaDAS software, by instructors Peter Fearns and Helen Chedzey, (both from Curtin University, Perth, Australia). The students worked in groups and processed numerous SeaWiFS images covering the local area (Black Sea and Mediterranean). These sessions, coupled with instruction on installation of the SeaDAS software, equipped participants with the skills required for image processing back in their respective institutions. This was very much appreciated by the students who ranked the SeaDAS processing as a very important component of the course.

Other practical computer sessions included the application of an orbital prediction model, computation of upwelling radiance and demonstration of primary productivity and curve-fitting software.

Another high spot of the course was the one-day oceanographic cruise aboard the Institute's Research Vessel; the RV Bilim. This was carried out at the start of the second week and proved a very worthwhile activity. Different instruments were demonstrated and sampling strategies determined based on real-time traces. The positions of two sampling stations were chosen on the basis of information displayed on a SeaWIFS image of the Mediterrean, downloaded from the previous day. At each station a spectroradiometer was deployed to measure upwelling and downwelling light, demonstrating the variation of light intensity and changes in its spectral distribution with depth in the water column. The use of a SIMBAD radiometer used in development of atmospheric correction algorithms was demonstrated by Dr. Robert Frouin and students had the opportunity to operate the instrument themselves. A CTD with rosette, was deployed at each station, manifesting the presence of three distinct water masses in the Mediterranean and a chlorophyll (fluorescence) maximum at ~ 80m. These real-time traces were explained to the students who eagerly crowded around the computer monitor to watch. Water sampling from various depths of interest (based on the fluorescence profile) was demonstrated as was filtering seawater for chlorophyll determinations. Primary production experiments were not undertaken on such a short trip but the principles were clearly demonstrated and the equipment shown to the students. This was a most successful day and the students ranked it a highlight of the workshop.

Following on from the cruise, the latter part of the course concentrated on analysing and processing data collected at sea. This was coupled with talks on calibration, validation and interpretation of data.

Finally, for the last few days of the course, students were split into three groups and assigned a project: dissemination and presentation of the SeaWiFS data studied in the SeaDAS sessions; interpretation and presentation of data collected on the cruise; an overview and presentation of the workshop and its achievements (including discussion of questionnaire results, distributed to the students). These reports were submitted on the last day of the workshop and presentations were given by each group during the afternoon. The quality of these presentations was excellent and clearly reflected the knowledge acquired over the duration of the course and the enthusiasm and effort input by the students. For all, it appeared a very rewarding way to wrap up the course work.

During our stay, there were numerous social events arranged for us: two extremely pleasant evenings spent sampling Turkish cuisine and local beverages, on the shores of the Mediterranean (thanks goes to METU for hosting these dinners); an entertaining football match between students and lecturers; a fascinating day out visiting the ancient cave dwellings, underground cities, local pottery and vineyards of Cappadocia and, on the last afternoon, a very enjoyable closing ceremony. Presentations of a processed image were made by IOCCG representatives to local organisers Drs. Sukru Besiktpe and Aysen Yilmaz (see processed image).

Overall, the success of the course can be attributed to the dedicated team of lecturers and the interest and motivation displayed by the students.


  • Sukru Besiktpe (METU)
  • Helen Chedzey (Curtin University, Perth, Australia)
  • Giuletta Fargion (Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA)
  • Lesley Clementson (CSIRO, Tasmania)
  • Peter Fearns (Curtin University, Perth, Australia)
  • Robert Frouin (Scripps, California)
  • Oleg Kopelevich (Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow)
  • Mervyn Lynch (Curtin University, Perth, Australia)
  • Temel Orguz (METU)
  • Emin Ozsoy (METU)
  • Louisa Watts (Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Nova Scotia, Canada)
  • Aysen Yilmaz (METU)

Past IOCCG Courses | Training & Education | Home