Over a range of trophic conditions in the ocean, we argue that variations in productivity are more closely related to variations in phytoplankton absorption than to variations in the cblorophyll-a (Chl-a) concentration. Our analysis suggests that environmental variability is expressed through the absorption properties of phytoplankton pigments rather than their quantity, and that productivity normalized to absorption is relatively invariant in the world ocean. The relationship between primary productivity and phytoplankton absorption makes possible a more direct approach to the estimation of ocean productivity from satellite sensors. (c) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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