Hokkaido University Research Profiles


Exploration of Marine Phytoplankton from Space

Takafumi Hirata Specially Appointed Associate Professor

Development of techniques for classification exploration and quantification of phytoplankton in the ocean using satellites

We are developing a method to remotely survey floating microalgae (phytoplankton) in the ocean using earth observation satellites. We are currently examining a method to quantitatively observe the world’s largest number of taxonomic groups (11 groups) for remote sensing.

Content of research

Phytoplankton in the ocean is a primary producer that supports bioenergy production required for fish production, and the abundance ratios among different kinds of phytoplankton can be used as an indicator of different ecosystem structures (and thus different biological resources). It is expected that the application of satellite exploration technology will enable us to understand where, when, and how different ecosystem structures are fluctuating around the world, which will in turn enable efficient exploration, evaluation and management of biological and fishery resources.

Potential for social implementation

  • ・Fishing and fisheries information services
  • ・Exploration of biological and chemical resources
  • ・Development of health foods and cosmetics

Appealing points to industry and local governments

It may be difficult to launch our own satellites for the exploration of the world’s biological and fishery resources to process and analyze the data. However, it is relatively easy to use the results (information). The world’s most advanced technologies introduced here have untapped application potential (commercialization potential).