Publication Abstracts

Ottaviani et al. 2019

Ottaviani, M., J. Chowdhary, and B. Cairns, 2019: Remote sensing of the ocean surface refractive index via short-wave infrared polarimetry. Remote Sens. Environ., 221, 14-23, doi:10.1016/j.rse.2018.10.016.

The linear polarization of sunlight reflected by ocean surfaces in the short-wave infrared (SWIR), at geometries where specular reflection dominates the signal, is a direct function of the refractive index of the surface microlayer (SML). This simple physical concept is at the base of a novel technique presented in this study. We invert observations obtained by the airborne Research Scanning Polarimeter (RSP) in the sunglint region, where each pixel's radiance is dominated by the signal originating from the wave slopes oriented precisely to cause specular reflection. The SWIR wavelength ensures minimization of aerosol interference when radiance travels through the atmosphere; strong absorption by the water body then limits the penetration depth to the first micrometer or so, effectively probing the SML. The resulting Degree of Linear Polarization (DoLP) is then governed by the refractive index via the Fresnel law for the specific pixel geometry, independently of the windspeed. The selected dataset concerns several field deployments from both low- and high-altitude aircraft, including total reflectance measurements with the sole purpose of accounting for the residual aerosol effect. Stable retrievals from transects above pure seawater yielded values of refractive index that match the values published in the literature within an accuracy of 5×10-4. Flying over the oil spill caused by the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon platform, detected variations were found compatible with the presence of an oil slick. The robustness of the results, guaranteed by the high RSP polarimetric accuracy (≤0.2%), opens the possibility for remote-sensing detection of other entities that similarly affect the refractive index including whitecaps, microplastics, biological gels, seaweed and grass mats.

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BibTeX Citation

@article{ot09100t,
  author={Ottaviani, M. and Chowdhary, J. and Cairns, B.},
  title={Remote sensing of the ocean surface refractive index via short-wave infrared polarimetry},
  year={2019},
  journal={Remote Sens. Environ.},
  volume={221},
  pages={14--23},
  doi={10.1016/j.rse.2018.10.016},
}

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RIS Citation

TY  - JOUR
ID  - ot09100t
AU  - Ottaviani, M.
AU  - Chowdhary, J.
AU  - Cairns, B.
PY  - 2019
TI  - Remote sensing of the ocean surface refractive index via short-wave infrared polarimetry
JA  - Remote Sens. Environ.
VL  - 221
SP  - 14
EP  - 23
DO  - 10.1016/j.rse.2018.10.016
ER  -

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