A new flag/masking scheme has been developed for identifying stray light and cloud shadow pixels that significantly impact the quality of satellite-derived ocean color products. Various case studies have been carried out to evaluate the performance of the new cloud contamination flag/masking scheme on ocean color products derived from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) onboard the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (SNPP). These include direct visual assessments, detailed quantitative case studies, objective statistic analyses, and global image examinations and comparisons. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Multisensor Level-1 to Level-2 (NOAA–MSL12) ocean color data processing system has been used in the study. The new stray light and cloud shadow identification method has been shown to outperform the current stray light flag in both valid data coverage and data quality of satellite-derived ocean color products. In addition, some cloud-related flags from the official VIIRS–SNPP data processing software, i.e., the Interface Data Processing System (IDPS), have been assessed. Although the data quality with the IDPS flags is comparable to that of the new flag implemented in the NOAA–MSL12 ocean color data processing system, the valid data coverage from the IDPS is significantly less than that from the NOAA–MSL12 using the new stray light and cloud shadow flag method. Thus, the IDPS flag/masking algorithms need to be refined and modified to reduce the pixel loss, e.g., the proposed new cloud contamination flag/masking can be implemented in IDPS VIIRS ocean color data processing.
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