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Appl Opt. 2007 Aug 10;46(23):5649-66.

On-orbit vicarious calibration of ocean color sensors using an ocean surface reflectance model.

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NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA.


Recent advances in global biogeochemical research demonstrate a critical need for long-term ocean color satellite data records of consistent high quality. To achieve that quality, spaceborne instruments require on-orbit vicarious calibration, where the integrated instrument and atmospheric correction system is adjusted using in situ normalized water-leaving radiances, such as those collected by the marine optical buoy (MOBY). Unfortunately, well-characterized time-series of in situ data are scarce for many historical satellite missions, in particular, the NASA coastal zone color scanner (CZCS) and the ocean color and temperature scanner (OCTS). Ocean surface reflectance models (ORMs) accurately reproduce spectra observed in clear marine waters, using only chlorophyll a (C(a)) as input, a measurement for which long-term in situ time series exist. Before recalibrating CZCS and OCTS using modeled radiances, however, we evaluate the approach with the Sea-viewing Wide-Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS). Using annual C(a) climatologies as input into an ORM, we derive SeaWiFS vicarious gains that differ from the operational MOBY gains by less than +/-0.9% spectrally. In the context of generating decadal C(a) climate data records, we quantify the downstream effects of using these modeled gains by generating satellite-to-in situ data product validation statistics for comparison with the operational SeaWiFS results. Finally, we apply these methods to the CZCS and OCTS ocean color time series.

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