Measurements of the reflecting and polarizing properties of various soils, sands, and vegetation in the visible- and near-ir spectral regions show that dark surfaces polarize the reflected radiation strongly while highly reflecting surfaces have relatively weak polarizing properties. In general, the reflectance of mineral surfaces increases, and the degree of polarization of the reflected radiation decreases, with increasing wavelength and increasing angle of incidence. There is little or no indication of specular reflection from the surfaces for which measurements were made. Introduction of the reflection data into the equation of radiative transfer for clear and slightly turbid models of the earth’s atmosphere shows that the upward radiation that would be incident on a high-altitude aircraft or satellite would be dominated by surface-reflected radiation for the red and near-ir regions over highly reflecting surfaces such as deserts, whereas atmospheric scattering is most important for short wavelengths and dark surfaces. Because of polarization effects, atmospheric transmission of optical contrasts is better in one orthogonal intensity component than the other, the difference being sufficient to merit polarizing optics in reconnaissance instrumentation under certain conditions.
© 1966 Optical Society of America
Original Manuscript: February 21, 1966
Published: June 1, 1966
Kinsell L. Coulson, "Effects of Reflection Properties of Natural Surfaces in Aerial Reconnaissance," Appl. Opt. 5, 905-917 (1966)