Dr Gavin Tilstone

Bio-optical Oceanographer

Dr Gavin Tilstone

Contact Details

+44 (0)1752 633100 (switchboard)

Dr Gavin Tilstone is a Senior Scientific Officer at PML and works in bio-optical oceanography and remote sensing and has expertise in ocean colour, satellite validation and algorithm development, optics, phytoplankton photosynthesis and primary production. His role is to expand the use of Earth Observation data for studying the environment and quantifying the marine carbon cycle by bringing in research funding, to lead and manage a research group consisting of PhD and post-doctoral scientists and to publish novel research in high impact journals.

Over the past fifteen years he has been developing marine research that links optical oceanography and remote sensing to address key environmental issues. This includes satellite ocean colour validation for both open ocean (case 1) and coastal case 2 waters, development of a range of satellite primary production algorithms both globally, open ocean waters of the Atlantic and coastal areas. He has used these algorithms to generate time series to evaluate changes in the carbon cycle in the global ocean. His work on MERIS validation has gained international recognition. Through the NERC-National Capabilities, the Atlantic Meridional Transect & Western Channel Observatory, Gavin collects time series of bio-optical and primary production data that are widely used for Earth Observation science and form important components of databases such as ESA MERMAID and NERC-BODC. Dr Tilstone’s research activities are highly inter-disciplinary and have a strong links with research in Biogeochemistry, Biodiversity and Socio-economics. He has worked on >25 International and EU research projects, has considerable management experience as Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator on 16 ESA, EU, NERC and Commercial projects. He has managed a wide range post-doctoral and visiting fellowships and has supervised 9 PhD projects.

Dr Gavin Tilstone has published over 60 peer reviewed research papers.

Key Projects

European Space Agency SEOM C2X,  http://www.brockmann-consult.de/c2x/index.php/home/


FRM4SOC: Fiducial Reference Measurements for Satellite Ocean Colour

Strategies for Environmental Monitoring of Marine Carbon Capture and Storage (STEMM-CCS)

Global Observatory of Lake Responses to Environmental Change (GloboLakes)

INTERREG IVA 2SEAS ISECA - project Information System on the Eutrophication of our Coastal Areas

EUFAR-HYQUAPRO – higher performing water algorithms

COASTCOLOUR - European Space Agancy high resolution ocean colour satelllite algorithms

NERC National Capability - Atlantic Meridional Transect

NERC National Capability - Western English Channel Observatory

Ecosystem of the mid-Atlantic Ridge at the sub-polar front and Charlie Gibbs Fracture Zone (ECOMAR)

NERC UK SOLAS grant, Investigation of the near surface production of iodocarbons – rates and exchanges (INSPIRE)


Hackenberg, S C; Andrews, SJ; Chance, RJ; Brewin, RJW; Tarran, GA; Tilstone, GH; Manaeian, JK; Small, A; Bouman, H; Dall'Olmo, GD; Reifel, KM; Airs, RL; Cummings, DG; Lewis, AC; Carpenter, LJ. In press Potential controls of isoprene in the surface ocean.. Global Biogeochemical Cycles.

Pabortsava, Katsiaryna; Lampitt, RS; Benson, Jeff; Casciotti, K; Crowe, Christian; McLachlan, Robert; le Moigne, F; Moore, CM; Pebody, Corinne; Provost, Paul; Rees, AP; Tilstone, GH; Woodward, EMS. in press Carbon sequestration in the deep Atlantic enhanced by Saharan dust. Nature Geosciences.

Tilstone, GH; Mallor-hoya, S; Gohin, F; Bel Couto, A; Sa, C; Gloela, P; Cristina, S; Airs, RL; Icely, J; Zuhlke, M; Groom, SB. 2017 Which Ocean Colour algorithm for MERIS in NW European coastal waters?. Remote Sensing of Environment, 189. 132-151

Chakraborty, K; Gupta, AS; Lotliker, A; Tilstone, GH. 2016 Evaluation of Model simulated and MODIS-Aqua retrieved sea surface chlorophyll in the eastern Arabian Sea. Estuarine Coastal Shelf Science, 181. 61-69.

Gloël, J; Robinson, C; Tilstone, GH; Tarran, GA; Kaiser, J. 2015 Could benzalkonium chloride be a suitable alternative to mercuric chloride for preservation of seawater samples?. Ocean Sciences, 11. 947-952

Nechad, B; Ruddick, KG; Schroeder, T; Oubelkheir, K; Blondeau-Patissier, D; Cherukuru, RCN; Brando, VE; Dekker, AG; Clementson, LA; Banks, AC; Maritorena, S; Werdell, J; Sa, C; Brotas, V; Caballero de Frutos, I; Ahn, Y-H; Salama, S; Tilstone, GH; Martinez-Vicente, V; Foley, D; McKibben, M; Nahorniak, J; Peterson, T; Silio-Calzada, A; Röttgers, R; Lee, ZP; Peters, M; Brockmann, C. 2015 CoastColour Round Robin datasets: a database to evaluate the performance of algorithms for the retrieval of water quality parameters in coastal waters.. Earth System Science Data, 7. 319-348

Barnes, MKS; Tilstone, GH; Smyth, TJ; Widdicombe, CE; Gloël, J; Robinson, C; Kaiser, J; Suggett, DJ. 2015 Drivers and effects of Karenia mikimotoi blooms in the western English Channel. Progress in Oceanography, 137. 456-469.

Barnes, MKS; Tilstone, GH; Suggett, DJ; Widdicombe, CE; Bruun, JT; Martinez-Vicente, V; Smyth, TJ. 2015 Temporal variability in total, micro- and nano-phytoplankton primary production at a coastal site in the Western English Channel. Progress in Oceanography, 137. 470-483.

Tilstone, GH; Xie, Y; Robinson, C; Serret, P; Raitsos, DE; Powell, T; Aranguren-Gassis, M; Garcia-Martin, E; Kitidis, V. 2015 Satellite estimates of net community production indicate predominance of net autotrophy in the Atlantic Ocean. Remote Sensing of Environment, 164. 254-269

Queiros, AM; Stephens, N; Cook, R; Ravaglioli, C; Nunes, J; Dashfield, SL; Harris, C; Tilstone, GH; Fishwick, J; Braeckman, U; Somerfield, PJ; Widdicombe, S. 2015 Can benthic community structure be used to predict the process of bioturbation in real ecosystems. Progress in Oceanography.

Xie, Y; Tilstone, GH; Widdicombe, CL; Woodward, EMS; Harris, C; Barnes, MKS. 2015 Effects of increases in temperature and nutrients on phytoplankton community structure and photosynthesis in the Western English Channel. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 519. 61-73

Tilstone, GH; Taylor, BH; Blondeau-Patissier, D; Powell, T; Groom, SB; Rees, AP; Lucas, MI. 2015 Comparison of new and primary production models using SeaWiFS data in contrasting hydrographic zones of the northern North Atlantic.. Remote Sensing of Environment, 156. 473-489

Brewin, RJW; Sathyendranath, S; Tilstone, GH; Lange, PK; Platt, T. 2014 A multicomponent model of phytoplankton size structure. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans, 119. 1-19

Barnes, MKS; Tilstone, GH; Smyth, TJ; Suggett, DJ; Astoreca, R; Lancelot, C; Kromkamp, JC. 2014 Absorption-based algorithm of primary production for total and size-fractionated phytoplankton in coastal waters. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 504. 73-89.

Tilstone GH, Miller PI, Brewin R, Priede, I.G. (2014) Enhancement of primary production outside of the spring bloom in the North Atlantic identified by remote sensing of ocean colour and temperature. Remote Sensing of Environment, 146: 77-86.

Kitidis V, Tilstone GH, Serret P, Smyth TJ, Torres R, Robinson C. (2014) Oxygen photolysis in the Mauritanian upwelling: Implications for net community production. Limnology and Oceanography, 59(2): 299-310.

Brewin RJ, Sathyendranath S, Lange PK, Tilstone GH. (2014) Comparison of two methods to derive size-structure of natural samples of phytoplankton. Deep-Sea Research I, 85: 72-79.

Tilstone GH, Lotliker A, Miller PI, Ashraf PM, Kumar TS, Suresh T, Ragavan BR, Menon HB. (2013) Assessment of MODIS-Aqua chlorophyll a algorithms in coastal and shelf waters of the eastern Arabian Sea. Continental Shelf Research, 65: 14-26.

Kowalczuk P, Tilstone G, Zabłocka M, Röttgers R, Thomas R. (2013). Composition of Dissolved Organic Matter along an Atlantic Meridional Transect from fluorescence spectroscopy and parallel factor analysis. Marine Chemistry, 157: 170-184.

Oubelkheir K, Clementson L, Moore G.F., Tilstone G.H. (2013). Production of mycosporine like-amino acids by phytoplankton under Ultra-violet radiation exposure in the sub-Antarctic zone south of Tasmania. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 494: 41-63

Abel R, Brand T, Dale A, Tilstone G, Beverage C. (2013). Variability of particle flux over the mid-Atlantic ridge. Deep Sea Research II 98: 257-268.

Tilstone GH, Lotliker A, Miller PI, Ashraf PM, Kumar TS, Suresh T, Ragavan BR, Menon HB. (2013) Assessment of MODIS-Aqua chlorophyll a algorithms in coastal and shelf waters of the eastern Arabian Sea. Continental Shelf Research, 65: 14-26.

Priede I.G., Bergstad O.A. , Miller P.I., incl. Tilstone G.H., et al (2013) Does presence of a Mid Ocean Ridge enhance biomass and biodiversity? PLoS ONE 8(5): e61550.

Hickman A.E., Moore C. M, Sharples J, Lucas M.I., Tilstone G.H., Krivtsov V., Holligan P. (2012). Primary production and nitrate uptake within the seasonal thermocline of the Celtic Sea. Marine Ecology Progress Series 463: 39-57, doi: 10.3354/meps09836.

Tilstone GH, Steef Peters, Hans van der Woerd, Marieke Eleveld, Kevin Ruddick, Wolfgang Schoenfeld, Hajo Krasemann, Victor Martinez-Vicente, David Blondeau-Patissier, Rudiger Rottgers, Kai Sorensen, Peter Jorgensen, Jamie Shutler. (2012) Variability in specific-absorption properties and their use in a semi-analytical Ocean Colour Algorithm for MERIS in North Sea and Western English Channel coastal waters. Remote Sensing Environment 118: 320-338.

Kitidis, V., Tilstone G.H., Smyth, T.J., Torres, R., Law C.J. (2011) Carbon monoxide Emissions from a Mauritanian Filament. Marine Chemistry. Mar. Chem. 127, 123-133.

Martinez-Vicente V, Tilstone GH, Sathyendranath S, Miller P, Groom S. (2012) Living sources of particulate backscattering over the mid-Atlantic Ridge. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 445: 37-51.Kitidis, V., Tilstone G.H., Smyth, T.J., Torres, R., Law C.J. (2011) Carbon monoxide Emissions from a Mauritanian Filament. Marine Chemistry. 127, 123-133.

Tilstone GH, I M Angel-Benavides; Y Pradhan, J D Shutler, S Groom; S Sathyendranath. (2011) An assessment of chlorophyll-a algorithms available for SeaWiFS in coastal and open ocean areas of the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea. Remote Sensing Environment, 115, 2277-2291.

Shutler JD, Smyth TJ, Saux-Picart S, Wakelin SL, Hyder P, Orekhov P, Grant M, Tilstone GH, Allen JI. (2011) Evaluating the ability of a hydrodynamic ecosystem model to capture inter- and inra-annual spatial characteristics of chlorophyll-a in the north east Atlantic. Journal of Marine Systems, 88(2):169-182.

Tilstone G, Airs R, Martinez-Vicente V, Widdicombe C, Llewellyn C. in press. High concentrations of mycosporine like amino acids and coloured dissolved organic matter in the sea surface microlayer off the Iberian Peninsular. Limnology and Oceanography, 55(5).

Martinez-Vicente V, Land PE, Tilstone GH, Widdicombe C, Fishwick JR. 2010. Particulate scattering and backscattering related to water constituents and seasonal changes in the Western English Channel. Journal of Plankton Research, 32(5), 603-619.

Groom SB, Martinez-Vicente V, Fishwick J, Tilstone GH, Moore GF, Smyth TJ, Harbour D. (2009). The western English Channel Observatory: Optical characteristics of station L4. Journal of Marine Systems, 77(3), 278-295.

Robinson C, Tilstone GH, Rees AP, Smyth TJ, Fishwick JR, Tarran GA, Luz B, Barkan E, David E. 2009. Comparison of in vitro and in situ plankton production determinations. Aquatic Microbial Ecology, 54(1), 13-34.

Serret P, Robinson C, Fernández E, Teira E, Tilstone G, Pérez V. 2009. Predicting plankton net community production in the Atlantic Ocean. Deep-Sea Research II, 56(15), 941-953.

Tilstone G, Smyth T, Poulton A, Hutson R. 2009. Measured and remotely sensed estimates of primary production in the Atlantic Ocean from 1998 to 2005. Deep Sea Research II, 56(15), 918-930.

Carr M-E, Friedrichs MAM, Schmeltz M, Aita MN, Antoine D, Arrigo KR, Asanuma I, Aumont O, Barber R, Behrenfeld M, Bidigare R, Buitenhuis ET, Campbell J, Ciotti A, Dierssen H, Dowell M, Dunne J, Esaias W, Gentili B, Gregg W, Groom S, Hoepffner N, Ishizaka J, Kameda T, Le Quere C, Lohrenz S, Marra J, Melin F, Moore K, Morel A, Reddy TE, Ryan J, Scardi M, Smyth T, Turpie K, Tilstone G, Waters, Yamanaka Y. 2006. A comparison of global estimates of marine primary production from ocean color. Deep-Sea Research II, 53(5-7), 741-770.

Lorenzo LM, Arbones B, Tilstone GH, Figueiras FG. 2005. Across-shelf variability of phytoplankton composition, photosynthetic parameters and primary production in the NW Iberian upwelling system. Journal of Marine Systems, 54(1-4), 157-173.

Smyth TJ, Tilstone GH, Groom SB. 2005. Integration of radiative transfer into satellite models of ocean primary production. Journal of Geophysical Research, 110(C10), art:C10014.

Tilstone GH, Smyth TJ, Gowen RJ, Martinez-Vicente V, Groom SB. 2005. Inherent optical properties of the Irish Sea and their effect on satellite primary production algorithms. Journal of Plankton Research, 27(10), 1-22

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