Doron, M; Belanger, S; Doxaran, D; Babin, M (2011). Spectral variations in the near-infrared ocean reflectance. REMOTE SENSING OF ENVIRONMENT, 115(7), 1617-1631.
The optical properties of natural waters beyond the visible range, in the near-infrared (NIR, 700-900 nm), have received little attention because they are often assumed to be mostly determined by the large absorption coefficient of pure water, and because of methodological difficulties. It is now growingly admitted that the NIR represents a potential optical source of unambiguous information about suspended sediments in turbid waters, thence the need for better understanding the NIR optical behaviour of such waters. It has recently been proposed (Ruddick et al., Limnology and Oceanography. 51, 1167-1179, 2006) that the variability in the shape of the surface ocean reflectance spectrum in the NIR is negligible in turbid waters. In the present study, we show, based on both in situ and remote sensing data, that the shape of the ocean reflectance spectrum in the NIR does vary in turbid to extremely turbid waters. Space-borne ocean reflectance data were collected using 3 different sensors (SeaWiFS, MODIS/Aqua and MERIS) over the Amazon, Mackenzie and Rio de la Plata turbid river plumes during extremely clear atmospheric conditions so that reliable removal of gas and aerosol effects on reflectance could be achieved. In situ NIR reflectance data were collected in different European estuaries where extremely turbid waters were found. In both data sets, a flattening of the NIR reflectance spectrum with increasing turbidity was observed. The ratio of reflectances at 765 nm and 865 nm, for instance, varied from ca. 2 down to 1 in our in situ data set, while a constant value of 1.61 had been proposed based on theory in a previous study. Radiative transfer calculations were performed using a range of realistic values for the seawater inherent optical properties, to determine the possible causes of variations in the shape of the NIR reflectance spectrum. Based on these simulations, we found that the most significant one was the gradual increase in the contribution of suspended sediments to the color of surface waters, which often leads to the flattening of the reflectance spectrum. Changes in the scattering and absorption properties of particles also contributed to variations in the shape of the NIR surface ocean reflectance spectrum. The impact of such variations on the interpretation of ocean color data is discussed. (C) 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.