by Mini Raman, Space Applications Centre, ISRO, Ahmedabad
Since its inception in 1999, POGO has been involved in capacity building by providing fellowship programs to scientists and students. I was fortunate to be selected for the POGO-SCOR fellowship in 2001 for training in Bedford Institute of Oceanography under the able guidance of Prof. Trevor Platt. As a Scientist with Space Application Centre of Indian Space Research Organization, I had started to work on two projects related to the estimation of bio-optical properties and primary production using ocean color data. The fellowship came at the right time since my knowledge on the marine optics was limited. My training was focused on learning the technique for measurement and analysis of spectral absorption characteristics of particulate and dissolved substances in seawater using spectrophotometer. Information on these optical properties is essential for i) characterizing the marine optical environment, ii) to understand the variability in spectral reflectance due to variation in optical constituents estimated with ocean-colour sensors. Dr. Venetia Stuart and Dr. Heather Bouman at BIO gave me the basic training on the measurement of absorption characteristics using spectrophotometer. To learn and perfect the techniques of measurement, I collected water samples from Bedford Basin every week and water samples from an offshore station (SAMBRO) were collected fortnightly. Waters of the basin corresponded to case-2 waters whereas the offshore station belonged to case-1 waters. I had the opportunity to put my training to practical use when I got the opportunity to participate in the second leg of Scotian Shelf Cruise on board R.V. Hudson. During the cruise, I measured and analyzed dissolved organic matter for 32 stations at different depth of the Scotian Shelf.
Prof. Trevor Platt, who agreed to be my supervisor despite his many other professional commitments, patiently guided me through the fellowship program. I had long and fruitful discussions with him that helped me sort out the technical and theoretical details of the work. Scientific discussions with Dr. Shubha Sathyendranath also helped me to narrow down on the specifics of my training program. It significantly increased my knowledge on bio-optics and its use in remote sensing. During the course of my training programme, I had interactions with other Scientists of BIO and research scholars pursuing their Ph. D and was exposed to high quality research work. I also got a firsthand working knowledge on the use of HPLC for pigment analysis, PI experiments for primary production modeling etc. My regular interactions with Prof. Trevor Platt, Shubha Sathyendranath and the POGO training motivated me to pursue my doctoral research on “Estimating primary production in Arabian Sea using satellite derived data” which I successfully completed in 2013. I am deeply grateful to both Prof. Platt and Dr. Shubha.
After coming back from the training program I carried out similar measurements in Arabian Sea during a couple of cruises and also trained few research fellows in this aspect. A photosynthesis –irradiance unit was also fabricated with the help of a Vendor for PI measurements as input to modelling primary production. A fully functional bio-optics laboratory was also established for in-situ measurement of various bio-optical parameters. I also imparted training to participants in POGO regional training programme conducted in Kochi in 2005 and during PORSEC workshop in 2012 in Kochi. The training helped in two research fellows to complete their doctoral research.
The ocean colour programme is an ongoing activity at SAC-ISRO and one of the goals of the programme is to involve various marine institutes and universities to use ocean colour data for various oceanographic and biological research. To achieve this, collaborative programmes are formulated and funded by ISRO. Under these collaborative programmes, training on satellite data analysis is routinely imparted to scientists and research students working in the collaborative projects at SAC. ISRO has a dedicated Ocean Colour program and has successfully launched two Ocean colour sensors OCEANSAT-1 OCM-1 (May, 1999) and OCEANSAT-2 OCM-2 (September, 2009) to provide high-quality data products to user community on an operational basis. To provide continuity of ocean colour data, OCM-3 is scheduled to be launched in 2020-2021. POGO fellowship program has provided an excellent opportunity for getting trained in subjects that would have been otherwise difficult for me by any other means. It has been a truly enriching experience and I am deeply grateful to POGO.