The phenomenon of sunglint, well known in satellite remote sensing, lacks a fundamental characterization under controlled laboratory conditions. Exploiting an apparatus specifically assembled for the purpose, we examine the signal collected by a photopolarimeter, pointed at a wavy water surface with measurable statistics and illuminated by a laser source. We also analyze the wave slope distributions, retrieved with an imaging system, and correlate them with the time series of glints. More particularly, we investigate the link between the occurrence of glints and that of the slopes from which they originate. In this context, the results obtained by applying the Hilbert–Huang transform technique to the slope time series are compared with those obtained through a traditional Fourier transform. This novel study first identifies the individual atomic glints as Fresnel reflection originating from a single wave facet. It then discusses the periodic character of a sequence of glints generated by a gravity wave state, as opposed to the erratic behavior of glints typical of capillary wave states. In mixed gravity–capillary conditions, it is shown that the glint properties are governed mainly by the capillary regime.
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