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Diurnal variability of ocean optical properties during a coastal algal bloom: implications for ocean colour remote sensing

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Understanding the diurnal variability of ocean optical properties is critical for better interpretation of satellite ocean colour data and characterizing biogeochemical processes. The daytime variability of ocean optical properties throughout an algal bloom event is analysed in this article based on in situ observations from dawn to dusk at a fixed coastal site in the South China Sea. Diurnal variability during the sunlit period of the ocean optical properties is found to be significant. During the 6 hours around noon, the temporal variability (defined by the coefficient of variation) of phytoplankton absorption, coloured dissolved organic matter and non-algal particle absorption, and particle backscattering at 443 nm can reach 21% ± 15%, 12% ± 9%, and 17% ± 9%, respectively. The diurnal variability during the bloom is much more pronounced than that of the non-bloom phase. With atmospheric radiative transfer modelling, it is further demonstrated that the geostationary satellite detection of within-day optical variability in algae-dominated waters depends on the reliability of the aerosol retrieval. The implications of the diurnal bio-optical variability for the retrieval, validation, and interpretation of satellite ocean colour products are also discussed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: First Institute of Oceanography (FIO), State Oceanic Administration (SOA), Qingdao, 266061, China 2: State Key Laboratory of Tropical Oceanography, South China Sea Institute of Oceanology (SCSIO), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Guangzhou, 510301, China

Publication date: December 10, 2013

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