Dr David McKee



Personal statement

The oceans play a hugely important role in the global carbon cycle and in energy transport mechanisms that influence world climate. Monitoring oceans is difficult due to the vast areas involved, the harsh environmental conditions and the rapid temporal variability of marine biogeochemical systems. Optical sensors can provide information about biological and mineral particles and dissolved substances. The technology is particularly suitable as optical sensors can be deployed on a variety of platforms, from satellites and aircraft to in situ moorings and underwater vehicles. David’s research is currently focused on improving the quality of products obtained from ocean colour remote sensing signals and in situ optical measurements of absorption, scattering and fluorescence. He is also interested in development of new platforms for optical instruments in oceanography such as micro-satellites for Earth observation and in situ profiling moorings. The research combines significant time spent at sea making measurements, numerical simulation of underwater and water leaving light fields and statistical data analysis. Most of the work is concentrated on optically complex shelf seas (e.g. Bristol Channel, Irish Sea, Mediterranean) where the influence of terrestrial and anthropogenic sources are strongest, though more recently he has started to develop interests in optical complexity in more open ocean areas that are subject to episodic inputs of wind-borne particulates. A key element of David’s NERC Fellowships has been the development of several very successful collaborations with partners in UK and international institutions.


Hyperspectral optical absorption closure experiment in complex coastal waters
Kostakis Ina, Twardowski Michael, Roesler Collin, Röttgers Rüdiger, Stramski Dariusz, McKee David, Tonizzo Alberto, Drapeau Susan
Limnology and Oceanography: Methods Vol 19, pp. 589-625 (2021)
Marine artificial light at night : an empirical and technical guide
Tidau Svenja, Smyth Tim, McKee David, Wiedenmann Jörg, D’Angelo Cecilia, Wilcockson David, Ellison Amy, Grimmer Andrew J, Jenkins Stuart R, Widdicombe Stephen, Queirós Ana M, Talbot Elizabeth, Wright Adam, Davies Thomas W
Methods in Ecology and Evolution Vol 12, pp. 1588-1601 (2021)
The hidden influence of large particles on ocean colour
Davies Emlyn J, Basedow Sünnje L, McKee David
Scientific Reports Vol 11 (2021)
Transmission across the water-air interface : resolving the impact of multiple interactions at the sea surface
McKee David, Piskozub Jacek
Optics Express Vol 29, pp. 1296-1303 (2021)
Inherent optical properties-reflectance relationships revisited
Lo Prejato Marilisa, McKee David, Mitchell Catherine
Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans Vol 125 (2020)
Development of a bio-optical model for the Barents Sea to quantitatively link glider and satellite observations
Kostakis I, Röttgers R, Orkney A, Bouman HA, Porter M, Cottier F, Berge J, McKee D
Philosophical Transactions A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences Vol 378, pp. 20190367 (2020)

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Research interests

Our group is interested in problems of radiance transfer in seawater, light utilisation by phytoplankton, optical monitoring of ecological processes, and remote sensing in the marine environment. These problems all involve the application of physical principles in an interdisciplinary context. Activities range from in situ measurement of optical properties at sea from ships and other platforms, through radiative transfer simulations of underwater and water leaving light fields, to development of new algorithms for interpretation of ocean colour remote sensing data from satellite-borne sensors.

Professional activities

Invited Talk
NEODAAS (External organisation)
NERC Field Spectroscopy Facility (External organisation)
Invited Talk
Invited Talk
Optics Express (Journal)
Associate Editor

More professional activities


The impact of artificial light on arctic marine organisms and ecosystems during the polar night (Deep Impact)
McKee, David (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2020 - 30-Jan-2024
Doctoral Training Partnership 2018-19 University of Strathclyde | McCarry, Cait
McKee, David (Principal Investigator) Patton, Brian (Co-investigator) McCarry, Cait (Research Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2020 - 01-Jan-2023
Collaborative Studies of Two Resource Ecosystems in Shelf, Slope and Oceanic Regions of the Norwegian and South-China Seas - Stressor | McCarry, Cait
McKee, David (Principal Investigator) Patton, Brian (Co-investigator) McCarry, Cait (Research Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2020 - 01-Jan-2023
Mechanistic understanding of the role of diatoms in the success of the Arctic Calanus complex and implications for a warmer Arctic | Connan-McGinty, Stacey
McKee, David (Principal Investigator) Banas, Neil (Co-investigator) Connan-McGinty, Stacey (Research Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2019 - 01-Jan-2023
Collaborative Studies of Two Resource Ecosystems in Shelf, Slope and Oceanic Regions of the Norwegian and South-China Seas - Stressor
McKee, David (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2019 - 31-Jan-2022
Artificial Light Impacts on Coastal Ecosystems (ALICE)
McKee, David (Principal Investigator)
13-Jan-2019 - 12-Jan-2023

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