Abstract

Absorption, scattering, and color distortion are three major degradation factors in underwater optical imaging. Light rays are absorbed while passing through water, and absorption rates depend on the wavelength of the light. Scattering is caused by large suspended particles, which are always observed in an underwater environment. Color distortion occurs because the attenuation ratio is inversely proportional to the wavelength of light when light passes through a unit length in water. Consequently, underwater images are dark, low contrast, and dominated by a bluish tone. In this paper, we propose a novel underwater imaging model that compensates for the attenuation discrepancy along the propagation path. In addition, we develop a robust color lines-based ambient light estimator and a locally adaptive filtering algorithm for enhancing underwater images in shallow oceans. Furthermore, we propose a spectral characteristic-based color correction algorithm to recover the distorted color. The enhanced images have a reasonable noise level after the illumination compensation in the dark regions, and demonstrate an improved global contrast by which the finest details and edges are enhanced significantly.

© 2015 Optical Society of America

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