Satellite remote sensing of ocean color is a critical tool for assessing the productivity of marine ecosystems and monitoring changes resulting from climatic or environmental influences. Yet water-leaving radiance comprises less than 10% of the signal measured from space, making correction for absorption and scattering by the intervening atmosphere imperative. Traditional ocean color retrieval algorithms utilize a standard set of aerosol models and the assumption of negligible water-leaving radiance in the near-infrared. Modern improvements have been developed to handle absorbing aerosols such as urban particulates in coastal areas and transported desert dust over the open ocean, where ocean fertilization can impact biological productivity at the base of the marine food chain. Even so, imperfect knowledge of the absorbing aerosol optical properties or their height distribution results in well-documented sources of error. In the UV, which future spaceborne spectrometry plans to exploit to improve the separation of chlorophyll from colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM) as well use to quantify different phytosynthetic pigments contributing to light absorption spectra, the problem of UV-enhanced absorption and nonsphericity of certain aerosol types are amplified due to the increased Rayleigh and aerosol optical depth, especially at off-nadir view angles.
Multi-angle spectro-polarimetric measurements have been advocated as an additional tool to better understand and retrieve the aerosol properties needed for atmospheric correction for ocean color retrievals. The Airborne Multiangle SpectroPolarimetric Imager-1 (AirMSPI-1) has been flying aboard the NASA ER-2 high altitude aircraft since October 2010. AirMSPI typically acquires observations of a target area at 9 view angles between ±67° at 10 m resolution. AirMSPI spectral channels are centered at 355, 380, 445, 470, 555, 660, and 865 nm, with 470, 660, and 865 reporting linear polarization. We have developed a retrieval code that employs a coupled Markov Chain (MC) and adding/doubling radiative transfer method for joint retrieval of aerosol properties and water leaving radiance from AirMSPI polarimetric observations.
We tested prototype retrievals by comparing the retrieved aerosol concentration, size distribution, and water-leaving radiance to values reported by the USC SeaPRISM AERONET-OC site off the coast of California. The retrieval then was applied to a variety of costal regions in California to evaluate variability in the water-leaving radiance under different atmospheric conditions. We will present results, and will discuss algorithm sensitivity and potential applications for future space-borne coastal monitoring.