We present the results of a study of optical scattering and backscattering of particulates for three coastal sites that represent a wide range of optical properties that are found in U.S. near-shore waters. The 6000 scattering and backscattering spectra collected for this study can be well approximated by a power-law function of wavelength. The power-law exponent for particulate scattering changes dramatically from site to site (and within each site) compared with particulate backscattering where all the spectra, except possibly the very clearest waters, cluster around a single wavelength power-law exponent of −0.94. The particulate backscattering-to-scattering ratio (the backscattering ratio) displays a wide range in wavelength dependence. This result is not consistent with scattering models that describe the bulk composition of water as a uniform mix of homogeneous spherical particles with a Junge-like power-law distribution over all particle sizes. Simultaneous particulate organic matter (POM) and particulate inorganic matter (PIM) measurements are available for some of our optical measurements, and site-averaged POM and PIM mass-specific cross sections for scattering and backscattering can be derived. Cross sections for organic and inorganic material differ at each site, and the relative contribution of organic and inorganic material to scattering and backscattering depends differently at each site on the relative amount of material that is present.
© 2008 Optical Society of AmericaPDF Article