Catherine Mitchell, PhD

Senior Research Scientist
Satellite Oceanographer
Phone: +1 (207) 315-2567, ext. 402
Fax: +1 (207) 315-2329

For media inquiries, please contact


MSci, Physics and Mathematics, University of Glasgow, Scotland, 2011

Ph.D., Optical Oceanography, University of Strathclyde, Scotland, 2015

Research Interests

My primary research interest is in understanding changes in ocean colour which are driven by microscopic particles and dissolved materials present in the water column. Using satellites to measure ocean colour allows observation of the oceans’ ecology on the global scale, which is essential for understanding the factors affecting complex marine ecosystems. I use satellites to distinguish what materials are affecting the light in coastal and oceanic ecosystems, from suspended sediments to phytoplankton. A major part of my work is in developing algorithms to provide more accurate measurements of parameters from satellite measurements, from optical properties, to the separation of suspended sediment and phytoplankton signals in shelf seas or the concentration of particulate inorganic carbon in the global ocean. See my [lab page](link to my new lab page) to see a list of current projects.

Courses and Workshops

Oceanography is a discipline where computational skills are becoming core skills that must be taught and shared across all levels within the field. To that end, I’m on the Steering Committee of OceanHackWeek, a collaborative learning experience aimed at exploring, creating and promoting effective computation and analysis workflows for large and complex oceanographic data. Its objectives are to:

  • Promote data and software proficiency in ocean scientists
  • Facilitate inclusive community building.

For internal purposes, I have also co-developed R tutorials for undergraduate students in the Sea Change Semester Program at Bigelow and for internal workshops.


  • Balch, W.M., B. Bowler, D. Drapeau, L. Lubelczyk, E. Lyczkowski, C. Mitchell, and A. Wyeth. (2018). Coccolithophore distributions of the North and South Atlantic. Deep-Sea Research Part I, 151, 103066.
  • Mitchell, C., H. Gordon, B. Bowler, D. Drapeau & W. M. Balch, (2018). Optical inversions of the water column based on glider measurements. Optics Express., 26(25),
  • Dall’Olmo, G., R. J. W. Brewin, F. Nencioli, E. Organelli, K. Lefering, D. McKee, R. Rottgers, C. Mitchell, E. Boss, A. Bricaud & G. Tilstone, (2017). Determination of the absorption coefficient of chromophoric dissolved organic matter from underway spectrophotometry. Optics Express, 25(24), A1079-A1095.
  • Mitchell, C., C. Hu, B. Bowler, D. Drapeau & W. M. Balch, (2017). Estimating particulate inorganic carbon concentration from ocean color data using a reflectance difference approach. Journal of Geophysical Research. 122,
  • Balch, W. M., N. R. Bates, P. J. Lam, B. S. Twining, S. Z. Rosengard, D. T. Drapeau, B. C. Bowler, R. Garley, L. C. Lybelczyk, C. Mitchell and S. Rauschenberg (2016). Factors regulating the Great Calcite Belt in the Southern Ocean and its biogeochemical significance, Global Biogeochem. Cycles., 30, 1124-1144, doi:10.1002/2016GB005414.
  • Mitchell, C., & Cunningham, A., (2016). Derivation of the specific optical properties of suspended mineral particles and their contribution to the attenuation of solar irradiance in offshore waters by ocean colour remote sensing, Journal of Geophysical Research. 121, 104–117, doi:10.1002/2015JC011056.
  • Mitchell, C., & Cunningham, A., (2015). Remote sensing of spatio-temporal relationships between the partitioned absorption coefficients of phytoplankton cells and mineral particles and euphotic zone depths in a partially mixed shelf sea, Remote Sensing of Environment, 160,193-205.
  • Mitchell, C., & Cunningham, A (2014). Determination of the absorption coefficients of phytoplankton and mineral particles from remote sensing reflectance, Ocean Optics XXII Extended Abstract, Portland, ME. **Awarded Best Student Paper at Ocean Optics XXII
  • Mitchell, C., Cunningham, A., & McKee, D. (2014b). Remote sensing of particulate absorption coefficients and their biogeochemical interpretation: A case study in the Irish Sea, Remote Sensing of Environment, 152,74–82.
  • Mitchell, C., Cunningham, A., & McKee, D. (2014a). Remote sensing of shelf sea optical properties: Evaluation of a quasi-analytical approach for the Irish Sea, Remote Sensing of Environment, 143,142–153.
  • Cresswell, A.J., Sanderson, D.C.W., Harrold, M., Kirley, B., Mitchell, C. and Weir, A. (2013). Demonstration of lightweight gamma spectrometry systems in urban environments. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 124, 22-28, doi:10.1016/j.jenvrad.2013.03.006

Social Media