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

Spatiotemporal underwater light field fluctuations in the open ocean

M. Hieronymi, A. Macke


The light availability in the upper layer of the open sea is subject to strong fluctuations due to focusing of surface waves. This paper shows measurements of downwelling spectral irradiances as well as spatiotemporal light field patterns along the water column. Results are interpreted with respect to diverse surface waves. Direct wind develops capillary and small gravity waves that affect the light regime only up to circa 5 m water depth. At high seas and below 5 m depth, light fluctuations can be described more accurately in terms of sea state parameters such as wave height and period, rather than wind speed. Between 3 m and 25 m water depth, waves with significant heights of 1.5 m to 2.5 m provoke the strongest intensity fluctuations. In general, fluctuation amplitudes decrease and periods extend with water depth where the coefficient of variation, CV, is in average four times higher above 2 m compared to 25 m water depth.

© The Authors. All rights reserved. [DOI: 10.2971/jeos.2010.10019s]

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