Through decades of efforts and practices, we have achieved great progress in understanding ocean biology and biogeochemistry through satellite measurements of ocean (water) color, or passive remote sensing. These include detailed global maps of the distribution of surface phytoplankton, the production of newly formed particulate organic matter through photosynthesis (i.e., primary production), as well as the change and feedback of phytoplankton in a changing climate, to name a few. However, these results are still far from a full account of ocean biology and biogeochemistry, where we want more detailed information of phytoplankton (e.g., types and sizes), as well as information in the vertical dimension. For such, we are happy to see new developments in ocean optics and ocean color remote sensing. These include, but certainly are not limited to, hyperspectral sensors, measurements via polarized setups, as well as ocean lidar systems. In particular, through pumping laser light into deeper ocean, lidar has demonstrated great potential to fill the gap of passive ocean color remote sensing. These developments in technology are providing exciting new findings where breakthroughs in ocean biogeochemistry are on the horizon. Thus, we organized this feature issue in Applied Optics to summarize a few recent developments and achievements, where readers and the community can easily capture progress on both fronts, as well as the potential and advantages of the fusion of passive and active optical sensing. Specifically, this issue contains 12 papers describing research in both active and passive optical remote sensing of aquatic environment. They are still limited in number and subject, but are expected to stimulate the ocean color community with findings relevant for satellite applications.

© 2020 Optical Society of America

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