Determining Bottom Reflectance and Water Optical Properties Using Unmanned Underwater Vehicles under Clear or Cloudy Skies

David C. English College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, Florida

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Kendall L. Carder College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, Florida

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Abstract

An unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) with hyperspectral optical sensors that measure downwelling irradiance and upwelling radiance was deployed over sandy bottoms, sea grass patches, and coral reefs near Lee Stocking Island, Bahamas, during the Coastal Benthic Optical Properties (CoBOP) program of 2000. These deployments occurred during both sunny and cloudy weather. If the rate of irradiance change due to cloud cover is slight, then the inclusion of a variable cloudy-irradiance factor will allow a reasonable estimation of water column absorption. Examination of data from a deployment in May 2000 under cloudy skies shows that the combination of hyperspectral light-field measurements, knowledge of the UUV's position in the water column, and a cloudy-irradiance factor permits consistent estimations of bottom reflectivity to be made from UUV measured reflectances. The spatial distribution of reflectance estimates obtained from a UUV may be useful for validation of airborne ocean color imagery.

Corresponding author address: David English, College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, 140 7th Ave. S., St. Petersburg, FL 33704-5016. Email: denglish@marine.usf.edu

Abstract

An unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) with hyperspectral optical sensors that measure downwelling irradiance and upwelling radiance was deployed over sandy bottoms, sea grass patches, and coral reefs near Lee Stocking Island, Bahamas, during the Coastal Benthic Optical Properties (CoBOP) program of 2000. These deployments occurred during both sunny and cloudy weather. If the rate of irradiance change due to cloud cover is slight, then the inclusion of a variable cloudy-irradiance factor will allow a reasonable estimation of water column absorption. Examination of data from a deployment in May 2000 under cloudy skies shows that the combination of hyperspectral light-field measurements, knowledge of the UUV's position in the water column, and a cloudy-irradiance factor permits consistent estimations of bottom reflectivity to be made from UUV measured reflectances. The spatial distribution of reflectance estimates obtained from a UUV may be useful for validation of airborne ocean color imagery.

Corresponding author address: David English, College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, 140 7th Ave. S., St. Petersburg, FL 33704-5016. Email: denglish@marine.usf.edu

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