Abstract

The influence of the ocean’s optical properties and wind induced sea surface foam (white caps) on the short-wave albedo of the ocean–atmosphere system is studied by solving the radiative transfer equation using a Monte Carlo method. It is found that for a foam free ocean, the planetary albedo of a very clear ocean is at most 10% greater than that for a totally absorbing ocean. However, the introduction of a relatively small amount of sea foam on the surface can produce a considerable increase in the albedo, especially if the foam is highly reflecting. For example, it is shown that for foam which is totally reflecting (the foam albedo is 1), an increase in the wind speed from 6 to 14 m/sec would double the planetary albedo for small solar zenith angles.

© 1977 Optical Society of America

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