13.1 Deep Space Observations of Sun Glint from Oceans and from Oriented Ice Crystals

Friday, 13 July 2018: 8:30 AM
Regency E/F (Hyatt Regency Vancouver)
Tamas Varnai, Univ. of Maryland Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD; and A. Marshak and A. B. Kostinski

Every hour or two, the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) onboard the DSCOVR satellite provides unique full-color images of the sunlit side of the Earth from the L1 Lagrangian point, which is four times farther the Moon.

Casual glances at such images often reveal bright colorful spots that stand out markedly from their surroundings. Such spots often appear not only over ocean but also over land. Tracking the colorful spots using an automated image analysis algorithm reveals that they are caused by specular reflection of sunlight, sometimes from ocean surfaces and other times from clouds containing horizontally oriented ice crystals. The presented study characterizes these spots in terms of prevalence, location, color, and brightness, and provides insights into the factors that lead to their appearance.

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