Lidar Monitoring of Chlorophyll a During the XXIX and XXXI Italian Antarctic Expeditions

  • Luca FioraniEmail author
  • Federico Angelini
  • Florinda Artuso
  • Dario Cataldi
  • Francesco Colao
Research paper


Although it is known that the Ross Sea is responsible for more than a quarter of CO2 absorption of the Southern Ocean, more information is needed to model the primary production of this key area. In particular, it is necessary to improve the characterization of the size class distribution, biomass and taxonomic composition of phytoplankton in the Ross Sea. Recently, an innovative compact lidar fluorosensor was deployed for real-time sensing of chlorophyll a, during the Ross Sea Mesoscale Experiment (RoME), conducted in the XXIX (2014) and XXXI (2016) Italian Antarctic expeditions. Furthermore, high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) was also performed to provide pigment analysis of in situ samples. Lidar fluorosensors are laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) instruments and have been extensively operated by the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA) since the 1990s to monitor water bodies. Spectra obtained with LIF contain signatures of phytoplankton pigments, chromophoric dissolved organic matter and dispersed impurities, such as crude oils. The study of algal pigments provides not only the phytoplankton biomass—directly linked to chlorophyll a—but also its taxonomic composition through detection of several accessory pigments. Moreover, some models allow the identification of phytoplankton size classes. Lidar and HPLC mapped the spatiotemporal distribution of algal biomass and showed that during RoME, the phytoplankton assemblage structure was dominated by large-size cells (micro-phytoplankton) and the prevailing algal groups were diatoms.

Article Highlights

  • Lidar fluorosensors provide fast measurements of phytoplankton pigments

  • They are the “missing link” between satellite radiometers and in situ instruments

  • High performance liquid chromatography integrates lidar fluorosensors

  • Phytoplankton spatiotemporal distribution was mapped in the Ross Sea (Antarctica)

  • Phytoplankton functional types and size classes were retrieved


Lidar HPLC Chlorophyll Coastal monitoring Ross Sea (Antarctica) 



The authors are grateful to Cristina Misic for fluorometer data, Antonio Palucci for useful discussions, Carla Cavalcariola for management assistance, Augustine Doronila for paper revision and Roberta Fantoni for constant encouragement. This work was supported by the Italian Antarctic Research Program (PNRA) under Grant 2013/AN2.04.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© University of Tehran 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nuclear Fusion and Safety Technologies DepartmentENEAFrascatiItaly

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