Abstract

The optical properties of mineral particles suspended in seawater were calculated from the Mie scattering theory for different size distributions and complex refractive indices of the particles. The ratio of the spectral backscattering coefficient to the sum of the spectral absorption and backscattering coefficients of seawater, b b(λ)/[a(λ) + b b(λ)], was analyzed as a proxy for ocean reflectance for varying properties and concentrations of mineral particles. Given the plausible range of variability in the particle size distribution and the refractive index, the general parameterizations of the absorption and scattering properties of mineral particles and their effects on ocean reflectance in terms of particle mass concentration alone are inadequate. The variations in the particle size distribution and the refractive index must be taken into account. The errors in chlorophyll estimation obtained from the remote sensing algorithms that are due to the presence of mineral particles can be very large. For example, when the mineral concentration is 1 g m-3 and the chlorophyll a concentration is low (0.05 mg m-3), current global algorithms based on a blue-to-green reflectance ratio can produce a chlorophyll overestimation ranging from ∼50% to as much as 20-fold.

© 2004 Optical Society of America

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