Brewster-angle measurements of sea-surface reflectance using a high resolution spectroradiometer

Alex Cunningham, Peter Woods, David McKee

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This paper describes the design, construction and testing of a ship-borne spectroradiometer based on an imaging spectrograph and cooled CCD array with a wavelength range of 350-800 nm and 4 nm spectral sampling. The instrument had a minimum spectral acquisition time of 0.1 s, but in practice data were collected over periods of 10 s to allow averaging of wave effects. It was mounted on a ship's superstructure so that it viewed the sea surface from a height of several metres at the Brewster angle (53 degrees) through a linear polarizing filter. Comparison of sea-leaving spectra acquired with the polarizer oriented horizontally and vertically enabled estimation of the spectral composition of sky light reflected directly from the sea surface. A semi-empirical correction procedure was devised for retrieving water-leaving radiance spectra from these measurements while minimizing the influence of reflected sky light. Sea trials indicated that reflectance spectra obtained by this method were consistent with the results of radiance transfer modelling of case 2 waters with similar concentrations of chlorophyll and coloured dissolved organic matter. Surface reflectance signatures measured at three locations containing blooms of different phytoplankton species were easily discriminated and the instrument was sufficiently sensitive to detect solar-stimulated fluorescence from surface chlorophyll concentrations down to 1 mg m−3.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S29-S33
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Optics A: Pure and Applied Optics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2002


  • spectroradiometry
  • remote sensing
  • ocean colour

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