Marine Science Faculty Publications

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remote sensing, sensor design, signal-to-noise ratio, ocean color, atmospheric correction, noise reduction, uncertainties, remote sensing reflectance, chlorophyll a

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Using simulations, error propagation theory, and measurements from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), we determined the minimal signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) required for ocean color measurements and product uncertainties at different spatial and temporal scales. First, based on typical top-of-atmosphere (TOA) radiance over the ocean, we evaluate the uncertainties in satellite-derived Rrs in the visible wavelengths (ΔRrs(vis)) due to sensor noise in both the near-infrared (NIR) and the visible bands. While the former induces noise in Rrs(vis) through atmospheric correction, the latter has a direct impact on Rrs(vis). Such estimated uncertainties are compared with inherent ΔRrs(vis) uncertainties from in situ measurements and from the operational atmosphere correction algorithm. The comparison leads to a conclusion that once SNR(NIR) is above 600:1, an SNR(vis) better than 400:1 will not make a significant reduction in product uncertainties at pixel level under typical conditions for a solar zenith angle of 45°. Then, such uncertainties are found to decrease significantly in data products of oceanic waters when the 1 km pixels from individual images are binned to lower spatial resolution (e.g., 4 km) or temporal resolution (e.g., monthly). Although these findings do not suggest that passive ocean color sensors should have SNR(vis) around 400:1, they do support the argument for more trade space in higher spatial and/or spectral resolutions once this minimal 400:1 SNR(vis) requirement is met.

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Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, v. 122, issue 3, p. 2595-2611

©2017. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

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