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Ocean Optics

Raphe Kudela, & Sherry Palacios UC- Santa Cruz

Kudela Lab Field Projects

IronEx II SOFex

Bering Sea Gulf of Alaska

NSF Coastal Ocean Processes GEOHAB Ocean Observing

Kudela Lab Field Projects

IronEx II SOFex

Bering Sea Gulf of Alaska

NSF Coastal Ocean Processes GEOHAB Ocean Observing

Why Study the Ocean?

Covers ~70% of the planet About half of the oxygen in the atmosphere is produced by phytoplankton

Remote Sensing is the best available method for monitoring longterm (decadal) changes in global productivity, and linking these changes to human activities

Global Warming? Basin-Scale Oscillations?

Behrenfeld et al. 2006

Chlorophyll trends, 1996-2011

Kahru et al. 2012

Relative Abundance Index, Santa Cruz Wharf



Example: Gulf of California

Despite naturally high nutrient concentrations and productivity, nitrogen-rich agricultural runoff fuels largephytoplankton blooms in the Gulf of California. Runoff exerts a strong and consistent inuence on biological processes, in 80% of cases stimulating blooms within days of fertilization and irrigation of agricultural elds. We project that by the year 2050, 2759% of all nitrogen fertilizer will be applied in developing regions located upstream of nitrogendecient marine ecosystems.

Beman et al., Nature 2005

Solar Radiation Incident on the Ocean

Transmission through the atmosphere depends on:
Solar zenith angle (latitude, season, time of day) Cloud cover Atmospheric pressure (air mass) Water vapor Atmospheric turbidity Column ozone (important for UV-B)
Ground albedo (how much light is reflected from the ground) also affects the incident irradiance.

Midsummer Solar Irradiance at 45N (midday)

about 450 W m-2 (PAR, energy units) 2000 mol m-2 s-1 (PAR, quanta)

Midwinter Solar Irradiance at 45N

about 200 W m-2; 800 mol m-2 s-1 ((PAR only) Note that PAR = Photosynthetically Available Radiation; it is the integral of the spectral irradiance over the visible wavelengths 400-700 nm.

The atmosphere
The atmosphere attenuates the amount of radiation impinging on earths surface. Atmosphere

Kirk 1994, Fig. 2.1, p. 27

Solar irradiance at the air-sea interface

Surface Reflection
2 - 3% for solar zenith angles 0 - 45 Increased greatly when angles exceed 70; less so with surface roughness

Refractive index of natural waters is about 1.34 (air is 1.0) Light direction becomes more vertical Focusing and defocusing effects of waves
air water Reflection and refraction
Total internal reflection Focusing and defocusing

Light in the ocean

The light becomes more directional and you lose the blues and the reds

Light in water
Solar radiation (light) must first reach the surface of the ocean by passing through the atmosphere It must then enter the water (rather than being reflected) It then is governed by optical properties of water

Light in the ocean

Beer-Lambert Law Ed=E0 e-kz

Ed = downwelling irradiance E0 = surface irradiance k = diffuse attenuation z = depth

What Determines the Optical Properties of Water?

Water color is determined mostly by absorption (not particles)

Water clarity is determined mostly by scattering (the amount of stuff in the water)

Absorption, Scattering, and Beam Attenuation

Beam attenuation (c ) is the combination of absorption and scattering Diffuse attenuation (k) is something else

Absorption in the ocean



0.6 0.5

Absorption (m )



0.4 0.3

Phytoplankton Detritus + dissolved colored matter

450 500 550 600 650 700

0.2 0.1

0 400

Wavelength (nm)

Blue water, green water

Removal of photon from the incident light beam. bf



Forward scattering bf (m-1) Backscattering bb (m-1)

The ABCs of Light

Optics Primer
IOP- Inherent optical property eg. absorption (a), scattering (b), attenuation (c) AOP- Apparent optical property eg. irradiance (E), radiance (L)


remote sensing reflectance

Rrs = g


a + bb

Lu Ed



c=a+b btot = bf + bb atot = aw + aph + ad + aCDOM


Rrs, Lwn, & Ed used in satellite models to predict IOPs Lwn() Rrs()
SeaWiFS Chl a

remote sensing reflectance

Rrs = g


a + bb

Lu Ed


Lwn Lu + Lsky

0.1 0.1

Adapted from Kahru & Mitchell 2001

In situ Chl a (mg m-3)



The Coastal Ocean Conundrum

Unlike terrestrial remote sensing, the target is constantly moving--we need very rapid image analysis The ocean is a dark target atmospheric correction is critical. Multiple sensors, multiple problems Scales of interest range from 10s of meters to 100s of kilometers (but the available sensors rarely match these requirements!)

Ocean Color is a + bb

Scattering in the ocean

Coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi

More recently satellite algorithms have been developed for some phytoplankton taxa detection

Iglesias-Rodriguez et al. 2000

Absorption plus Scattering

Red tide

Eddies off the coast of Chile

Confluence of Rio Negro and Amazon Rivers, Brazil

Image shamelessly swiped from internet from Star

The Coastal Ocean Conundrum

Most ocean color sensors are optimized for open-ocean, large scale (>1 km) Most terrestrial sensors are optimized for very bright targets Airborne sensors fill the gap between what we have now, and what wed like to have in the future

What we CAN measure:

bbw + bbp Lu Rrs ( ) = constant Ed aw + aph + adm + bbw + bbp

What were reasonably good at measuring: Chlorophyll What we WANT TO measure: -Water Quality -Phytoplankton Species (such as Harmful Algal Blooms) -Biogeochemistry -Long-term trends

MODIS Aqua, 8 June 2012

MODIS Aqua, 8 June 2012

Spatial Resolution

September 12, 2006 Time sequence of 710 nm:  Diurnal migration of the bloom?







Spectral Resolution

Spectral Resolution


Northern Gulf of Alaska (Copper River area)

Even though we can only measure reflectance, we can invert the data to produce IOPsthese can be directly correlated to biogeochemical parameters

True Color


Methyl Mercury
R2 from 0.52-0.91



May 2004, MODIS

Santa Barbara MASTER 2011 MSLH

MSLH is negative or very small in the Santa Barbara Channel
Andree Clark mean MSLH: 0.000 sr-1
UCSB Lagoon mean MSLH: 0.001 sr-1

Team Oceans Projects

Kelp Forest Ecology Harmful Algal Bloom Detection Land-Sea Interface Homeland Security (ship tracking) Hydrocarbons Atmospheric Correction

Team Oceans Projects

Kelp Forest Ecology
How do you map a kelp forest? How does this change as a function of spatial resolution? How does the kelp forest change the surrounding ocean? How does the kelp respond to the environment? Why are kelp found where they are?

Team Oceans Projects

Harmful Algal Bloom Detection
Can we detect phytoplankton types?

Land-Sea Interface
How would you develop habitat maps for complex coastal environments (kelp, eel grass, estuarine waters, etc)

Team Oceans Projects

Ship Tracking
Can we identify large vessel tracks (could this be applied to whales?)

There are natural hydrocarbon seeps in the SBCcan those be detected as oceanic or atmospheric perturbations?

Atmospheric Correction
How best to remove the atmosphere?

Optical Observations at Sea

.An imaging optical sensor that meets the following specifications: A dynamic range of order 1010-1012 (~35-40 bits) An ability to resolve over 10,000 wavebands over the visible. A detection limit equivalent to photon flux at the 0.000001% light level (relative to surface noon) while still resolving colors, and three orders of magnitude more when shifted (automatically) to monochromatic mode centered at 498 nm A spectral response optimized for coastal, green water environments. Logarithmic ranging IR and UV blocking to high degree. Dynamic focusing. Ability to handle 104 radiance range in a single image. Spatial resolution of 60 arc-minutes (~250 meters at 700 km altitude) <100 msec response time On-sensor adaptive preprocessing, coupled to advanced image processing ~ 3 cm in size Other models available sensitive in UV, IR, polarization

The product of 3 billion years of R&D!

Optical Observations at Sea

The Secchi Disk: First systematic usage reported in 1866, but observed and remarked upon much earlier. Early experiments carried out by Commander Cialdi, head of the Papal Navy, and Professor Secchi onboard the SS LImmacolata Concezione (Cialdi, 1866). Used operationally for establishing aids to navigation over shallow water.

More Optical Observations

Diffuse attenuation (K, m-1)
e.g., Kd (e.g. Ed (z+Dz) = Ed (z) exp(- Kd. Dz))

Reflectance (R)

e.g., Radiance reflectance (Lu/ Ed; sr-1)

The Fundamental problem in ocean optics is to relate the IOPs to the AOPs.

The diffuse attenuation coefficient arises because the underwater light field is not a collimated beam as is assumed when we talk about the beam attenuation coefficient (c). It is useful however, because the diffuse attenuation coefficient, K, can describe the actual penetration of light in the sea. It is closely related to a. Irradiance
0.00 0.20 0.40 0.60 0.80 1.00 0.00 20.00
) Depth (m

40.00 60.00 80.00 100.00

~ e-Kz
~ 1%

Measuring Light
Secchi Disk PAR (light) meter--cosine or scalar Beam Transmissometer (beam-c) Radiance/Irradiance meters Backscatter meter ac meter Reflectance (color) meter

Summary (1)
Optical properties of water include absorption, scattering, attenuation (and a few others) These properties determine the clarity and color of the water, and tell us about what is in the water We can easily measure AOPs, but wed rather know the IOPs

Summary (2)
Optics can provide rich information about what is in the waterbut only if you:
Choose the right instruments Calibrate, calibrate, calibrate! Understand the context (if you dont understand the oceanography, you wont understand the optical signals)

Radiative Transfer Equation

1 z z 1 E 1 z 1 L(z;) = L(0; )exp c(z' ' )dz'' + L (z' ; ) + S(z' ; ) exp c(z' ' )dz'' dz c(z' ) 0 0 z'

Beer-Lambert Law
E=E0 e-kz
bbw + bbp Lu Rrs ( ) = constant Ed aw + aph + adm + bbw + bbp