Optical remote sensing of ocean color is a well-established technique for inferring ocean properties. However, most retrieval algorithms are based on the assumption that the radiance received by satellite instruments is affected only by the phytoplankton pigment concentration and correlated substances. This assumption works well for open ocean water but becomes questionable for coastal waters. To reduce uncertainties associated with this assumption, we developed a new algorithm for the retrieval of marine constituents in a coastal environment. We assumed that ocean color can be adequately described by a three-component model made up of chlorophyll a, suspended matter, and yellow substance. The simultaneous retrieval of these three marine constituents and of the atmospheric aerosol content was accomplished through an inverse-modeling scheme in which the difference between simulated radiances exiting the atmosphere and radiances measured with a satellite sensor was minimized. Simulated radiances were generated with a comprehensive radiative transfer model that is applicable to the coupled atmosphere–ocean system. The method of simulated annealing was used to minimize the difference between measured and simulated radiances. To evaluate the retrieval algorithm, we used simulated (instead of measured) satellite-received radiances that were generated for specified concentrations of aerosols and marine constituents, and we tested the ability of the algorithm to retrieve assumed concentrations. Our results require experimental validation but show that the retrieval of marine constituents in coastal waters is possible.
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