What is Ocean Color?

The “color” of the ocean is determined by the interactions of incident light with substances or particles present in the water. White light from the sun is made up of a combination of colors, which are broken apart by water droplets in a ‘rainbow’ spectrum. When light hits the water surface, the different colors are absorbed, transmitted, scattered, or reflected in differing intensities by water molecules and other so-called optically-active constituents in suspension in the upper layer of the ocean.

Ocean Colour Radiometry

Ocean colour radiometry is a technology, and a discipline of research, concerning the study of the interaction between the visible electromagnetic radiation coming from the sun and aquatic environments. In general, the term is used in the context of remote-sensing observations, often made from Earth-orbiting satellites. Using sensitive radiometers, such as those on-board satellite platforms, one can measure carefully the wide array of colors emerging out of the ocean. These measurements can be used to infer important information such as phytoplankton biomass or concentrations of other living and non-living material that modify the characteristics of the incoming radiation. Monitoring the spatial and temporal variability of algal blooms from satellite, over large marine regions up to the scale of the global ocean, has been instrumental in characterizing variability of marine ecosystems and is a key tool for research into how marine ecosystems respond to climate change and anthropogenic perturbations.

If you are new to ocean color

The gateway to understand ocean color – Ocean Color Web. Don’t forget to add the site to your Favorite.

Ocean Color Web (

I strongly suggest that the new comer to Ocean Color should read the following material from IOCCG

IOCCG Reports and Articles (


Wikipedia (

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