Abstract

The influence of the ocean–atmosphere interface on the radiance distribution in both the ocean and atmosphere is investigated. At visible wavelengths in the real ocean just below the surface, the downwelling radiance is a maximum within the critical angle and drops off by 1 or 2 orders of magnitude toward the horizon. The usual explanation that this is due to the sky radiation concentrated within the critical angle and the total internal reflection of the weak upward radiance at the ocean surface at angles outside the critical angle is too simplistic. There are two other important factors: (1) the atmosphere must have sufficient optical thickness so that appreciable sky (multiple scattered) radiation develops at all angles in the downward direction; (2) the water must have appreciable absorption so that the upwelling radiance just below the ocean surface is only a small fraction of the downwelling radiance entering the ocean. Examples show that, if either one of these conditions is not satisfied, an entirely different radiance distribution develops. The variation of the following quantities with depth is studied: radiance; vector and scalar irradiance; distribution function; reflectance; and heating rate. The radiance distribution in a homogeneous medium is compared with that in the same medium with an atmosphere–ocean interface at various depths within the medium. Most of the calculations are done for Rayleigh scattering centers, but some results are given for Mie-type scattering.

© 1981 Optical Society of America

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