People > Dr Robert Brewin

Dr Robert Brewin

Remote Sensing Scientist

Contact Details

+44 (0)1752 633100 (switchboard)


Dr Bob Brewin is a senior scientist at PML. He joined PML in 2010 and completed his PhD at the University of Plymouth in 2011, on the detection of phytoplankton size structure using satellite observations. He has been a post-doctoral fellow of the European Space Agency (ESA) and has worked on a variety of ESA projects, including the Ocean Colour Climate Change Initiative and projects focused around a series of Atlantic Meridional Transect cruises. He is currently working for the National Centre for Earth Observation.

His research focuses on the use of satellite data for understanding marine biogeochemistry and on marine-based citizen science projects for measuring key environmental indicators such as water temperature and water quality. He has conducted research globally, in European seas, in the Atlantic Ocean, in the Red Sea and in the Indian Ocean, spanning a range of marine ecosystems from the coast to the open ocean. He has spent nearly six months at sea collecting biogeochemical and optical data for validating satellite ocean observations and for developing and testing satellite algorithms for the detection of chlorophyll concentration, phytoplankton functional groups and sea surface temperature. He is a passionate and enthusiastic marine scientist.



Atlantic Meridional Transect Ocean Flux from Satellite Campaign (AMT4OceanSatFlux)

Contact: Dr Gavin Tilstone

The AMT4OceanSatFlux project will measure the flux of carbon dioxide (CO2) between the atmosphere and the ocean utilising a state-of-the-art eddy...


SOLSTICE-WIO: Sustainable Oceans, Livelihoods and food Security Through Increased Capacity in Ecosystem research in the Western Indian Ocean

Contact: Dr Eleni Papathanasopoulou

SOLSTICE – WIO is a four year collaborative GCRF project that aims to strengthen capacity in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region to address...

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Other key projects

Decadal change in phytoplankton community ecology (DECIPHER)

ESA Ocean Colour Climate Change Initiative

NERC National Centre for Earth Observation 

Recent publications

  • Brewin, RJW; Brewin, T; Phillips, J; Rose, S; Abdulaziz, A; Wimmer, W; Sathyendranath, S; Platt, T. 2019 A Printable Device for Measuring Clarity and Colour in Lake and Nearshore Waters. Sensors, 19 (4). 936.
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  • Organelli, E; Dall’Olmo, G; Brewin, RJW; Tarran, GA; Boss, E; Bricaud, A. 2018 The open-ocean missing backscattering is in the structural complexity of particles. Nature Communications, 9 (1).
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  • Curran, K; Brewin, RJW; Tilstone, GH; Bouman, H; Hickman, A. 2018 Estimation of Size-Fractionated Primary Production from Satellite Ocean Colour in UK Shelf Seas [in special issue: Ocean Colour] Remote Sensing MDPI, 10 (1389).
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  • Skákala, J; Ford, D; Brewin, RJW; McEwan, R; Kay, S; Taylor, BH; de Mora, L; Ciavatta, S. 2018 The Assimilation of Phytoplankton Functional Types for Operational Forecasting in the Northwest European Shelf. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans.
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  • Lamont, T; Barlow, RG; Brewin, RJW. 2018 Variations in Remotely-Sensed Phytoplankton Size Structure of a Cyclonic Eddy in the Southwest Indian Ocean. Remote Sensing, 10 (7), 1143. 1-18.
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  • Brewin, RJW; Smale, DA; Moore, PJ; Dall’Olmo, G; Miller, PI; Taylor, BH; Smyth, TJ; Fishwick, J; Yang, M. 2018 Evaluating Operational AVHRR Sea Surface Temperature Data at the Coastline Using Benthic Temperature Loggers. Remote Sensing, 10 (6), 925. 1-23.
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Selected key publications

Holt, J., Allen, J. I., Anderson, T. R., Brewin, R.J.W., Butenschön, M., Harle, J., Huse, G., Lindemann, C., Memery, L., Salihoglu, B., Senina, I., & Yool, A. (2014) Challenges in integrative approaches to modelling the marine ecosystems of the North Atlantic: Physics to fish and coasts to ocean, Progress in Oceanography, In press, doi: 10.1016/j.pocean.2014.04.024

Brewin, R.J.W., Sathyendranath, S., Tilstone, G., Lange, P.K. and Platt. T. (2014) A multicomponent model of phytoplankton size structure, Journal of Geophysical Research – Oceans, 119, doi:10.1002/2014JC009859

Racault, M-F., Platt, T., Sathyendranath, S., Agirbas, E., Martinez, V., Brewin, R.J.W. (2014) Plankton indicators and ocean observing systems: support to the marine ecosystem state assessment. Journal of Plankton Research, In Press: dio.10.1093/plankt/fbu016

Tilstone, G., Miller, P., Brewin, R.J.W., & Priede, G. (2014) Enhancement of primary production in the North Atlantic outside of the spring bloom identified by remote sensing of ocean colour and temperature. Remote Sensing of Environment. 146, 77-86 doi:10.1016/j.rse.2013.04.021

Brewin, R.J.W., Sathyendranath, S., Lange, P.K., Tilstone, G. (2014) Comparison of two methods to derive the size-structure of natural populations of phytoplankton. Deep-Sea Research Part I 85, 72-79 doi:10.1016/j.dsr.2013.11.007

McKinnon, D.A., Williams, A., Young, J., Ceccarelli, D., Dunstan, P., Brewin, R.J.W., Watson, R., Brinkman, R., Cappo, M., Duggan, S., Kelley, R., Ridgway, K., Lindsay, D., Gledhill, D., Hutton, T., & Richardson, A.J. (2014) Tropical Marginal Seas: Priority Regions for Managing Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Function. Annual Review of Marine Science 6, 415-437 doi:10.1146/annurev-marine-010213-135042

Brewin, R.J.W., Sathyendranath, S., Müller, D., Brockmann, C., Deschamps, P-Y., Devred, E., Doerffer, R., Fomferra, N., Franz, B., Grant, M., Groom, S., Horseman, A., Hu, C., Krasemann, H., Lee, Z., Maritorena, S., Mélin, F., Peters, M., Platt, T., Regner, R., Smyth, T., Steinmetz, F., Swinton, J., Werdell, J. & White, G.N. (2013) The Ocean Colour Climate Change Initiative: III. A round-robin comparison on in-water bio-optical algorithms. Remote Sensing of Environment, In press doi:10.1016/j.rse.2013.09.016

Brewin, R.J.W., Raitsos, D. E., Pradhan, Y. & Holt, I. (2013) Comparison of chlorophyll in the Red Sea derived from MODIS and in situ data. Remote Sensing of Environment. 136, 218–224, doi:10.1016/j.rse.2013.04.018

Lee, Z., Hu, C., Shang, S., Du, K., Lewis, M., Arone, R. & Brewin, R.J.W. (2013) Penetration of UV-Visible solar light in the global oceans: insights from ocean colour remote sensing. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 118, 1-15, doi:10.1002/jgrc.20308

Raitsos, D. E., Pradhan, Y, Brewin, R.J.W., Stenchikov, G. & Holt, I. (2013) Remote sensing the phytoplankton seasonal succession of the Red Sea. PLoS ONE 8(6): e64909. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0064909

Palacz, A. P., St. John, M. A., Brewin, R.J.W., Hirata, T. & Gregg, W. W. (2013) Distribution of phytoplankton functional types in high-nitrate low-chlorophyll waters in a new diagnostic ecological indicator model. Biogeosciences, 10, 7553–7574 doi:10.5194/bg-10-7553-2013.

Hardman-Mountford, N.J., Polimene, L., Hirata, T., Brewin, R.J.W. & Aiken, J. (2013) Impacts of light shading and nutrient enrichment geo-engineering approaches on the productivity of a stratified, oligotrophic ocean ecosystem. J R Soc Interface 10: 20130701. doi:10. 1098/rsif.2013.0701

Brotas, V., Brewin, R.J.W., Sá, C., Brito, A.C., Silva, A., Mendes, C.R., Diniz, T., Kaufmann, M., Tarran, G., Groom, S.B., Platt, T., & Sathyendranath, S. (2013) Deriving phytoplankton size classes from satellite data: Validation along a trophic gradient in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Remote Sensing of Environment, 134, 66-77, doi: 10.1016/j.rse.2013.02.013

Brewin, R.J.W., Dall'Olmo G., Sathyendranath S. & Hardman-Mountford N.J. (2012). Particle backscattering as a function of chlorophyll and phytoplankton size structure in the open-ocean. Optics Express, 20, 17632-17652. doi: 10.1364/OE.20.017632

Brewin, R.J.W., Hirata T., Hardman-Mountford N.J., Lavender S. J., Sathyendranath S. & Barlow R. (2012). The influence of the Indian Ocean Dipole on interannual variations in phytoplankton size structure as revealed by Earth Observation. Deep Sea Research II, 77-80, 117-127. doi: 10.1016/j.dsr2.2012.04.009

Brewin, R.J.W., Devred, E., Sathyendranath, S., Lavender, S.J. & Hardman-Mountford, N.J. (2011) Model of phytoplankton absorption based on three size classes. Applied Optics, 50(22), 4353-4364. doi: 10.1364/AO.50.004535

Hirata, T., Hardman-Mountford, N.J., Brewin, R.J.W., Aiken, J., Barlow, R., Suzuki, K., Isada, T., Howell, E., Hashioka, T., Noguchi-Aita, M. & Yamanaka, Y. (2011) Synoptic relationships between surface Chlorophyll-a and diagnostic pigments specific to phytoplankton functional types, Biogeosciences, 8, 311-327, doi: 10.5194/bg-8-311-2011

Brewin, R.J.W., Hardman-Mountford, N.J., Lavender, S.J., Raitsos, D.E., Hirata, T., Uitz, J., Devred, E., Bricaud, A., Ciotti, A. & Gentili, B. (2011). An intercomparison of bio-optical techniques for detecting phytoplankton size class from satellite remote sensing. Remote Sensing of Environment, 115(2), 325-339. doi: 10.1016/j.rse.2010.09.004

Brewin, R.J.W., Sathyendranath, S., Hirata, T., Lavender, S.J., Barciela, R. & Hardman-Mountford, N.J. (2010) A three-component model of phytoplankton size class from satellite remote sensing. Ecological Modelling, 221(11), 1472-1483. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2010.02.014

Hirata, T., Hardman-Mountford, N.J., Barlow, R., Lamont, T., Brewin, R.J.W., Smyth, T. and Aiken, J. (2009). An inherent optical property approach to the estimation of size-specific photosynthetic rates in eastern boundary upwelling zones from satellite ocean colour: An initial assessment. Progress in Oceanography, 83: 393-397. doi: 10.1016/j.pocean.2009.07.019

Other activities

Chair of the UK Challenger Society and RSPSoc Society Marine Optics Special Interest Group.