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Potential for nocturnal satellite detection of suspended matter concentrations in coastal waters using a panchromatic band: a feasibility study based on VIIRS (NASA/NOAA) spectral and radiometric specifications

Abstract : Satellite remote sensing of coastal waters is important for understanding the functioning of these complex ecosystems. High satellite revisit frequency is required to permit a relevant monitoring of the strong dynamical processes involved in such areas, for example rivers discharge or tidal currents. One key parameter that is derived from satellite data is the suspended particulate matter (SPM) concentration. Knowledge of the variability of SPM could be used by sediment transport models for providing accurate predictions. Most of the current satellites that are dedicated to ocean color observations have a sun-synchronous orbit that performs a single daytime observation. The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) ocean color sensor (NASA/NOAA) is the only one that is equipped with a panchromatic spectral band, so-called Day-Night Band, which is able to measure extremely low level signals, typically of the order of magnitude of 10 −5 W m −2 sr −1 µm −1. The objective of this paper is to investigate the potential of the panchromatic and radiometric specifications of the VIIRS sensor to detect SPM concentrations from nighttime satellite observations. Realistic radiative transfer simulations are performed to quantitatively determine the amplitude of the top of atmosphere radiances under various conditions such as various moon incident illuminations, observation geometries, atmospheric and oceanic turbidities. The simulations are compared with the minimum detectable radiance as specified for the VIIRS sensor. The results show that the detection of SPM is systematically feasible, including in clear waters, for any observation geometries in the case of a full moon illumination. The sensitivity of the results to the lunar phase (i.e., out of the full moon conditions), which is one of the originalities of the study, shows that the detection should also be feasible for a significant number of nights over the entire lunar cycle, typically from 5 to 15 nights depending on the water turbidity. Therefore, nighttime ocean color panchromatic measurements performed using a VIIRS-like sensor are a highly promising approach, especially if it is combined with daytime observations, for improving the monitoring of ocean dynamics.
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Malik Chami, Morgane Larnicol, Sébastien Migeon, Audrey Minghelli, Sandrine Mathieu. Potential for nocturnal satellite detection of suspended matter concentrations in coastal waters using a panchromatic band: a feasibility study based on VIIRS (NASA/NOAA) spectral and radiometric specifications. Optics Express, Optical Society of America, 2020, 28 (10/11), pp.15314-15330. ⟨10.1364/OE.393048⟩. ⟨insu-02864306⟩

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