It is commonly known that underwater imaging is hindered by both absorption and scattering by particles of various origins. However, evidence also indicates that the turbulence in natural underwater environments can cause severe image-quality degradation. A model is presented to include the effects of both particle and turbulence on underwater optical imaging through optical transfer functions to help quantify the limiting factors under different circumstances. The model utilizes Kolmogorov-type index of refraction power spectra found in the ocean, along with field examples, to demonstrate that optical turbulence can limit imaging resolution by affecting high spatial frequencies. The effects of the path radiance are also discussed.
© 2009 Optical Society of America
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