Ocean-color radiometry across the Southern Atlantic and Southeastern Pacific: Accuracy and remote sensing implications

Published in Remote Sensing of Environment, v. 149:13–32

de-Moraes Rudorff, N., Frouin, R.J., Kampel, M., Goyens, C., Meriaux, X., Schieber, B. and Mitchell, B.G.

Publication year 2014
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2014.03.029
  • Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais, Avenida dos Astronautas, 1758 São José dos Campos, São Paulo, Brazil
  • Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, La Jolla Shores Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA
  • Laboratoire d'Océanologie et de Géosciences, Université du Littoral-Côte d'Opale, 32 Avenue Foch, 62930 Wimereux, France


IAI Program


IAI Project CRN3094


•Remote sensing reflectance determined by above and in-water techniques is compared.

•Each technique is influenced by different instrumental and environmental biases.

•A merged quantity is proposed to minimize the biases.

•The differences with modeled remote sensing reflectance were moderately high.

•The impacts of the biases on ocean-color products were however minor.


Ocean color radiometry (OCR) provides valuable data for biogeochemical oceanography. In situ OCR measurements are used in the development and validation of bio-optical models and vicarious calibration of satellite ocean-color sensors. It is thus crucial to obtain accurate in situ OCR measurements, which is a challenge, especially in regions subjected to adverse environmental conditions and where waters are optically complex. In the present work, the accuracy of in situ OCR is analyzed with data acquired in a wide range of bio-geographic provinces across the Southern Atlantic and Southeastern Pacific during the R/V Melville MV1102 cruise. Varied techniques employed to measure above-water remote sensing reflectance (Rrs) are inter-compared. Measured Rrs is also compared with modeled Rrs in a closure experiment. The impact of Rrs uncertainties on the retrieval of chlorophyll a concentration (Chla) and inherent optical properties (IOPs) is evaluated using operational bio-optical algorithms. The relative percent difference (RPD) between Rrs measured by the various techniques ranged from 12 to 26% for the ocean-color bands (412&ndash555 nm), and 3&ndash12% for the ratios (412&ndash510/555). A merged Rrs obtained by averaging the different types of measurements, INS, is recommended to reduce uncertainties. The coefficient of variation of INS and reflectance ratios was 11&ndash13% and 3&ndash5%, respectively. The RPD between INS and modeled Rrs and the corresponding ratios ranged from 18 to 34% and from 13 to 17%, respectively. Complete closure could not be obtained due to both measurement and modeling uncertainties. The impact of INS uncertainties on retrieved Chla and IOPs was generally smaller than the intrinsic errors of the inversion schemes. The results suggest that even though more accurate ocean-color radiometry is desirable, improving retrieval algorithms is essential to properly describing and furthering our understanding of bio-optical variability in the world's oceans.