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Assessment of SeaWiFS, MODIS, and MERIS ocean colour products in the South China Sea

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The Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS), Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), and Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) remote-sensing radiometric and chlorophyll-a (chl-a) concentration products for the South China Sea (SCS) from October 2003 to May 2010 were assessed using in situ data. A strict spatiotemporal match-up method was used to minimize the temporal variability effects of atmosphere and seawater around the measurement site. A comparison of the remote-sensing reflectance (R rs(λ)) of the three sensors with in situ values from the open waters of the SCS showed that the mean absolute percentage difference varied from 13% to 55% in the 412–560┬ánm spectral range. Generally, the MERIS radiometric products exhibited higher typical uncertainties and bias than the SeaWiFS and MODIS products. The R rs(443) to R rs(555/551/560) band ratios of the satellite data were in good agreement with in situ observations for these sensors. The SeaWiFS, MODIS, and MERIS chl-a products overestimated in situ values by 74%, 42%, and 120%, respectively. MODIS retrieval accuracy was better than those of the other sensors, with MERIS performing the worst. When the match-up criteria were relaxed, the assessment results degraded systematically. Therefore, strict spatiotemporal match-up is recommended to minimize the possible influences of small-scale variation in geophysical properties around the measurement site. Coastal and open-sea areas in the SCS should be assessed separately because their biooptical properties are different and the results suggest different atmospheric correction problems.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: State Key Laboratory of Tropical Oceanography, South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou, 510301, China 2: First Institute of Oceanography, State Oceanic Administration, Qingdao, 266061, China 3: National Satellite Meteorological Centre, China Meteorological Administration, Beijing, 100081, China

Publication date: June 18, 2014

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