The color of the ocean is calculated from a model that realistically takes into account the various types of scattering and absorption events that occur in both the atmosphere and ocean. Solar photons are followed through the atmosphere and into the ocean by a Monte Carlo technique. The reflection and refraction at the ocean surface are included in the calculation. The upward and downward flux is calculated at several different heights in the atmosphere, at thirteen different wavelengths from 0.4 μm to 0.7 μm. These results are compared with two approximate theories: (1) one-dimensional; (2) single scattering. The first of these theories gives results which are accurate within 10% in most cases and are easy to calculate. The chromaticity coordinates as well as the dominant wavelength and purity of the color are calculated from the Monte Carlo results for the variation of upward flux with wavelength. The ocean color near the horizon is almost entirely determined by the color of the sky reflected by the ocean surface. The upwelling light from the ocean can be observed near the nadir if precautions are taken to exclude as much light as possible reflected from the ocean surface. The color of this upwelling light from the ocean contains much information about the hydrosol, chlorophyll, and yellow substance amounts in the ocean water. The model calculations show how the ocean color changes from a deep blue of high purity for relatively pure water to a greenish blue and then to green of low purity as the cholorphyll and yellow substance amounts increase. Further increases in these substances cause the color to change to yellow green of a higher purity. A large increase in the hydro-sol amount usually causes a marked decrease in the purity of the color.
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