In attempting to observe the color of the ocean from satellites, it is necessary to remove the effects of atmospheric and sea surface scattering from the upward radiance at high altitude in order to observe only those photons which were backscattered out of the ocean and hence contain information about subsurface conditions. The observations that (1) the upward radiance from the unwanted photons can be divided into those resulting from Rayleigh scattering alone and those resulting from aerosol scattering alone, (2) the aerosol scattering phase function should be nearly independent of wavelength, and (3) the Rayleigh component can be computed without a knowledge of the sea surface roughness are combined to yield an algorithm for removing a large portion of this unwanted radiance from satellite imagery of the ocean. It is assumed that the ocean is totally absorbing in a band of wavelengths around 750 nm and shown that application of the proposed algorithm to correct the radiance at a wavelength λ requires only the ratio (∊) of the aerosol optical thickness at λ to that at about 750 nm. The accuracy to which the correction can be made as a function of the accuracy to which ∊ can be found is discussed in detail. A possible method of finding ∊ from satellite measurements alone is suggested.
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