Journal of the European Optical Society - Rapid publications, Vol 5 (2010)

Spectral analysis of the Forel-Ule Ocean colour comparator scale.

M. R. Wernand, H. J. van der Woerd

Abstract


Fran├žois Alphonse Forel (1890) and Willi Ule (1892) composed a colour comparator scale, with tints varying from indigo-blue to coca-cola brown, to quantify the colour of natural waters, like seas, lakes and rivers. For each measurement, the observer compares the colour of the water above a submersed white disc (Secchi disc) with the hand-held scale of pre-defined colours. The scale can be well reproduced from a simple recipe for twenty-one coloured chemical solutions and because the ease of its use, the Forel-Ule (FU) scale has been applied globally and intensively by oceanographers and limnologists from the year 1890. Indeed, the archived FU data belong to the oldest oceanographic data sets and do contain information on the changes in geobiophysical properties of natural waters during the last century. In this article we describe the optical properties of the FU-scale and its ability to cover the colours of natural waters, as observed by the human eye. The recipe of the scale and its reproduction is described. The spectral transmission of the tubes, with belonging chromaticity coordinates, is presented. The FU scale, in all its simplicity, is found to be an adequate ocean colour comparator scale. The scale is well characterized, is stable and observations are reproducible. This supports the idea that the large historic data base of FU measurements is coherent and well calibrated. Moreover, the scale can be coupled to contemporary multi-spectral observations with hand-held and satellite-based spectrometers.

© The Authors. All rights reserved. [DOI: 10.2971/jeos.2010.10014s]

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