The assumption that values of water-leaving radiance in the near-infrared (NIR) are negligible enable aerosol radiative properties to be easily determined in the correction of satellite ocean color imagery. This is referred to as the black pixel assumption. We examine the implications of the black pixel assumption using a simple bio-optical model for the NIR water-leaving reflectance [ρ<sub><i>w</i></sub>(λ<sub>NIR</sub>)]<sub><i>N</i></sub>. In productive waters [chlorophyll (Chl) concentration >2 mg m<sup>−3</sup>], estimates of [ρ<sub><i>w</i></sub>(λ<sub>NIR</sub>)]<sub><i>N</i></sub> are several orders of magnitude larger than those expected for pure seawater. These large values of [ρ<sub><i>w</i></sub>(λ<sub>NIR</sub>)]<sub><i>N</i></sub> result in an overcorrection of atmospheric effects for retrievals of water-leaving reflectance that are most pronounced in the violet and blue spectral region. The overcorrection increases dramatically with Chl, reducing the true water-leaving radiance by roughly 75% when Chl is equal to 5 mg m<sup>−3</sup>. Relaxing the black pixel assumption in the correction of Sea-Viewing Wide Field-of-View Sensor (SeaWiFS) satellite ocean color imagery provides significant improvements in Chl and water-leaving reflectance retrievals when Chl values are greater than 2 mg m<sup>−3</sup>. Improvements in the present modeling of [ρ<sub><i>w</i></sub>(λ<sub>NIR</sub>)]<sub><i>N</i></sub> are considered, particularly for turbid coastal waters. However, this research shows that the effects of nonzero NIR reflectance must be included in the correction of satellite ocean color imagery.
© 2000 Optical Society of America
(010.0010) Atmospheric and oceanic optics : Atmospheric and oceanic optics
(010.4450) Atmospheric and oceanic optics : Oceanic optics
(280.0280) Remote sensing and sensors : Remote sensing and sensors
David A. Siegel, Menghua Wang, Stéphane Maritorena, and Wayne Robinson, "Atmospheric Correction of Satellite Ocean Color Imagery: The Black Pixel Assumption," Appl. Opt. 39, 3582-3591 (2000)