The first step in the coastal zone color scanner (CZCS) atmospheric-correction algorithm is the computation of the Rayleigh-scattering contribution, Lr, to the radiance leaving the top of the atmosphere over the ocean. In the present algorithm Lr, is computed by assuming that the ocean surface is flat. Computations of the radiance leaving a Rayleigh-scattering atmosphere overlying a rough Fresnel-reflecting ocean are presented to assess the radiance error caused by the flat-ocean assumption. The surface-roughness model is described in detail for both scalar and vector (including polarization) radiative transfer theory. The computations utilizing the vector theory show that the magnitude of the error significantly depends on the assumptions made in regard to the shadowing of one wave by another. In the case of the coastal zone color scanner bands, we show that for moderate solar zenith angles the error is generally below the 1 digital count level, except near the edge of the scan for high wind speeds. For larger solar zenith angles, the error is generally larger and can exceed 1 digital count at some wavelengths over the entire scan, even for light winds. The error in Lr caused by ignoring surface roughness is shown to be the same order of magnitude as that caused by uncertainties of ± 15 mb in the surface atmospheric pressure or of ± 50 Dobson units in the ozone concentration. For future sensors, which will have greater radiometric sensitivity, the error caused by the flat-ocean assumption in the computation of Lr could be as much as an order of magnitude larger than the noise-equivalent spectral radiance in certain situations.
© 1992 Optical Society of America
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