Low-altitude coastal hyperspectral imagery is sensitive to reflections of sky radiance at the water surface. Even in the absence of sun glint, and for a calm water surface, the wide range of viewing angles may result in pronounced, low-frequency variations of the reflected sky radiance across the scan line depending on the solar position. The variation in reflected sky radiance can be obscured by strong high-spatial-frequency sun glint and at high altitude by path radiance. However, at low altitudes, the low-spatial-frequency sky radiance effect is frequently significant and is not removed effectively by the typical corrections for sun glint. The reflected sky radiance from the water surface observed by a low-altitude sensor can be modeled in the first approximation as the sum of multiple-scattered Rayleigh path radiance and the single-scattered direct-solar-beam radiance by the aerosol in the lower atmosphere. The path radiance from zenith to the half field of view (FOV) of a typical airborne spectroradiometer has relatively minimal variation and its reflected radiance to detector array results in a flat base. Therefore the along-track variation is mostly contributed by the forward single-scattered solar-beam radiance. The scattered solar-beam radiances arrive at the water surface with different incident angles. Thus the reflected radiance received at the detector array corresponds to a certain scattering angle, and its variation is most effectively parameterized using the downward scattering angle (DSA) of the solar beam. Computation of the DSA must account for the roll, pitch, and heading of the platform and the viewing geometry of the sensor along with the solar ephemeris. Once the DSA image is calculated, the near-infrared (NIR) radiance from selected water scan lines are compared, and a relationship between DSA and NIR radiance is derived. We then apply the relationship to the entire DSA image to create an NIR reference image. Using the NIR reference image and an atmospheric spectral reflectance look-up table, the low spatial frequency variation of the water surface-reflected atmospheric contribution is removed.
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