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.


Degradation of light carrying orbital angular momentum by ballistic scattering
Viola Shaun, Chen Zhaozhong, Yao Alison M, Valyrakis Manousos, Kelly Anthony E, McKee David, Lavery Martin P J
Physical Review Research Vol 2 (2020)
Special issue on remote sensing of ocean color : Theory and applications
Platt Trevor, Sathyendranath Shubha, Bouman Heather, Brockmann Carsten, McKee David
Sensors (Switzerland) Vol 20 (2020)
Artificial light during the polar night disrupts Arctic fish and zooplankton behaviour down to 200 m depth
Berge Jørgen, Geoffroy Maxime, Daase Malin, Cottier Finlo, Priou Pierre, Cohen Jonathan H, Johnsen Geir, McKee David, Kostakis Ina, Renaud Paul E, Vogedes Daniel, Anderson Philip, Last Kim S, Gauthier Stephane
Communications Biology Vol 3 (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 (2020)
A closure study of ocean inherent optical properties using flow cytometry measurements
Zhao Yangyang, Poulin Carina, McKee David, Hu Lianbo, Agagliate Jacopo, Yang Ping, Xiaodong Zhang
Journal of Quantitative Spectroscopy and Radiative Transfer Vol 241, pp. 1-9 (2020)
Low-cost, open-access quantitative phase imaging of algal cells using the transport of intensity equation
Grant Stephen D, Richford Kyle, Burdett Heidi L, McKee David, Patton Brian R
Royal Society Open Science Vol 7 (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


Ocean colour remote sensing for wetland mapping and chlorophyll concentration monitoring with spontaneous fluorescence and stimulated emission
Ren, Jinchang (Principal Investigator) Durrani, Tariq (Co-investigator) McKee, David (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2020 - 30-Jan-2022
Mechanistic understanding of the role of diatoms in the success of the Arctic Calanus complex and implications for a warmer Arctic | Connan, Stacey
McKee, David (Principal Investigator) Banas, Neil (Co-investigator) Connan, Stacey (Research Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2019 - 01-Jan-2022
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
Arctic PRoductivity in the seasonal Ice ZonE (Arctic PriZE)
Banas, Neil (Principal Investigator) McKee, David (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2017 - 30-Jan-2021
Sustainable harvesting of a patchy resource: aggregation mechanisms and implications for stock size estimates (SEA PATCHES)
McKee, David (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2017 - 31-Jan-2021

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