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Variability in Surface Reflectance and the Attenuation of Solar Radiation in Coastal Marine Waters

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Annual rept.

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Optical observation of the ocean has taken a central role in marine science, and environmental optics has now become established as a key discipline in oceanography. Ocean color is now measured routinely from numerous platforms, and tools for measuring spectral attenuation of solar radiation in surface waters are widely available. In particular, several approaches to the quantitative interpretation of spectral reflectance ocean color have been established data products include estimates of chlorophyll a, colored dissolved organic matter CDOM, and suspended sediment near the surface. Complementing this work have been studies relating ocean color to diffuse attenuation of solar radiation in visible and ultraviolet wavelengths, and the development of new approaches for relating spectral attenuation in the water column to a broad range of biological effects. A particularly intriguing aspect has been the finding that deviations from the central trends in relationships between ocean color and diffuse attenuation can reveal influences of phytoplankton community structure on ocean optics. We consider analysis of the relationships between ocean color and attenuation to be an especially promising avenue of research that should find broad application in coming years as hyperspectral ocean color sensors and autonomous measurements of multi-spectral diffuse attenuation from moorings, drifters and autonomous vehicles become commonplace. Our long term goal is to develop capabilities to make measurements routinely, with automatic generation of robust interpretations of optical variability in surface waters of the oceans, particularly in the coastal zone.

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  • Physical and Dynamic Oceanography
  • Optics

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