Abstract

The surface of the wind-ruffled sea contains capillary wave facets whose curvature is much larger than the wavelength of visible and infrared light. As a result, visible sea radiance consists of the sum of all the mirrorlike reflections of the sky and sun from each facet. In the infrared, additional radiance arises from blackbody emission by the facet and along the atmospheric path to the point of observation. Numerical calculations of mean sea radiance based on this model agree to within 1 °C with infrared data obtained in the long-wave band and in the short- and mid-wave bands outside the sun-glint corridor. If sun glint can be neglected, the spectral radiance of the ocean horizon is approximately given by the Planck function at the temperature of the ocean and lower atmosphere.

© 1999 Optical Society of America

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