Slope spectral density resolved in wave number and direction is an important statistical descriptor of water surface waves. Experimentalists have estimated this descriptor from optical wave imagery by assuming that light from the surface is modulated linearly by the component of wave slope aligned with the imaging azimuth. The level of error arising from this assumption of linearity depends on the optical conditions and can be severe. We have numerically explored this error when only reflected radiance is imaged by using a synthesized sea surface and a clear sky model to simulate sea surface imaging. Additionally, we have developed a method for identifying geometries which minimize nonlinearity. This paper describes our analytic models, our numerical techniques, and the character of our results.
© 1981 Optical Society of America
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