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Appl Opt. 2003 Jun 20;42(18):3634-46.

Estimation of scattering error in spectrophotometric measurements of light absorption by aquatic particles from three-dimensional radiative transfer simulations.

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  • 1Marine Physical Laboratory, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0238, USA.


We present an approach based on three-dimensional Monte Carlo radiative transfer simulations for estimating scattering error in measurements of light absorption by aquatic particles with a typical laboratory double-beam spectrophotometer. The scattering error is calculated by combining the weighting function describing the angular distribution of photon losses that are due to scattering on suspended particles with the volume scattering function of particles. We applied this method to absorption measurements made on marine phytoplankton, a diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana and a cyanobacterium Synechococcus. Assuming that the scattering phase function is described by the Henyey-Greenstein formula, we determined the backscatter probability of phytoplankton, which yields the best correction for scattering error at a light wavelength of 750 nm, where true absorption is null. The backscattering ratio estimated for both phytoplankton species is significantly higher than previously reported data based on Mie-scattering calculations for homogeneous spheres. Depending on the type of particles, the corrected absorption spectra obtained with our method may be similar or significantly different from spectra obtained with the null-point correction based on wavelength-independent scattering error.

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