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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 30, issue 1
Ann. Geophys., 30, 203–220, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Ann. Geophys., 30, 203–220, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Regular paper 18 Jan 2012

Regular paper | 18 Jan 2012

CAAS: an atmospheric correction algorithm for the remote sensing of complex waters

P. Shanmugam P. Shanmugam
  • Ocean optics and Imaging Laboratory, Department of Ocean Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai – 600036, India

Abstract. The current SeaDAS atmospheric correction algorithm relies on the computation of optical properties of aerosols based on radiative transfer combined with a near-infrared (NIR) correction scheme (originally with assumptions of zero water-leaving radiance for the NIR bands) and several ancillary parameters to remove atmospheric effects in remote sensing of ocean colour. The failure of this algorithm over complex waters has been reported by many recent investigations, and can be attributed to the inadequate NIR correction and constraints for deriving aerosol optical properties whose characteristics are the most difficult to evaluate because they vary rapidly with time and space. The possibility that the aerosol and sun glint contributions can be derived in the whole spectrum of ocean colour solely from a knowledge of the total and Rayleigh-corrected radiances is developed in detail within the framework of a Complex water Atmospheric correction Algorithm Scheme (CAAS) that makes no use of ancillary parameters. The performance of the CAAS algorithm is demonstrated for MODIS/Aqua imageries of optically complex waters and yields physically realistic water-leaving radiance spectra that are not possible with the SeaDAS algorithm. A preliminary comparison with in-situ data for several regional waters (moderately complex to clear waters) shows encouraging results, with absolute errors of the CAAS algorithm closer to those of the SeaDAS algorithm. The impact of the atmospheric correction was also examined on chlorophyll retrievals with a Case 2 water bio-optical algorithm, and it was found that the CAAS algorithm outperformed the SeaDAS algorithm in terms of producing accurate pigment estimates and recovering areas previously flagged out by the later algorithm. These findings suggest that the CAAS algorithm can be used for applications focussing in quantitative assessments of the biological and biogeochemical properties in complex waters, and can easily be extended to other sensors such as OCM-2, MERIS and GOCI.

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