The effects of the atmosphere and surface on sunlight backscattered to space by the ocean may be substantially reduced by using the unpolarized component of reflectance instead of total reflectance. At 450 nm, a wavelength of interest in ocean color remote sensing, and for typical conditions, 45% of the unpolarized reflectance may originate from the water body instead of 20% of the total reflectance, which represents a gain of a factor 2.2 in useful signal for water composition retrieval. The best viewing geometries are adjacent to the glitter region; they correspond to scattering angles around 100 deg, but they may change slightly depending on the polarization characteristics of the aerosols. As aerosol optical thickness increases, the atmosphere becomes less efficient at polarizing sunlight, and the enhancement of the water body contribution to unpolarized reflectance is reduced. Since the perturbing effects are smaller on unpolarized reflectance, at least for some viewing geometries, they may be more easily corrected, leading to a more accurate water-leaving signal and, therefore, more accurate estimates of phytoplankton pigment concentration.
EARTH RESOURCES AND REMOTE SENSING
CNES, Proceedings of 6th International Symposium on Physical Measurements and Signatures in Remote Sensing; p 665-674