Evaluation of GOCI Sensitivity for At-Sensor Radiance and GDPS-Retrieved Chlorophyll-a Products

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GOCI, SeaWiFS, MODIS, SNR, algorithm, chlorophyll-a

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The signal-to-noise ratio (SNR, or sensitivity) of an ocean color instrument is a critical parameter to determine the accuracy and precision of the data products. Yet published literature showed various formats in SNR specifications under different conditions, making a direct cross-sensor comparison difficult. Here, we compared the SNRs of GOCI spectral bands with those of SeaWiFS and MODIS/Aqua under the same radiance inputs. We also compared their ability to resolve small changes in the retrieved chlorophyll-a data products (Chl). While GOCI visible bands showed similar at-sensor SNRs to SeaWiFS, the near-infrared (NIR) bands showed significantly higher SNRs. Because the NIR bands were used for atmospheric correction, the increases in SNRs led to reduced noise in the retrieved Chl, as shown in the GOCI and SeaWiFS Chl products for Chl < 0.1 mg m−3. The noise in the retrieved products also depends on the retrieval algorithms in addition to the sensor SNR. When a new band-subtraction algorithm (the Ocean Color Index or OCI algorithm) was applied to the same GOCI remotesensing reflectance data derived from the GDPS software package, significant noise reduction was found in the Chl product for low concentrations (< 0.25 mg m−3), leading to product precision (∼3% in Chl) comparable to those from MODIS/Aqua measurements. This is certainly a significant achievement, as GOCI spatial resolution is much higher than MODIS (500 m versus 1 km). In addition, artifacts across image mosaic edges over low-concentration waters have been removed nearly completely by the OCI algorithm. Data analyses also indicated that GOCI radiometric calibration requires further improvement.

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Ocean Science Journal, v. 47, p. 279-285