A technique for monitoring and evaluating the performance of on-orbit calibration for satellite ocean color sensors has been developed. The method is based on the sensor on-orbit vicarious calibration approach using in situ ocean optics measurements and radiative transfer simulations to predict (calculate) sensor-measured top-of-atmosphere spectral radiances. Using this monitoring method with in situ normalized water-leaving radiance nLw(λ) data from the Marine Optical Buoy (MOBY) in waters off Hawaii, we show that the root-cause for an abnormal inter-annual difference of chlorophyll-a data over global oligotrophic waters between 2012 and 2013 from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) is primarily due to the VIIRS on-orbit calibration performance. In particular, VIIRS-produced Sensor Data Records (SDR) (or Level-1B data) are biased low by ∼1% at the wavelength of 551 nm in 2013 compared with those in 2012. The VIIRS calibration uncertainty led to biased low chlorophyll-a data in 2013 by ∼30-40% over global oligotrophic waters. The methodology developed in this study can be implemented for the routine monitoring of on-orbit satellite sensor performance (such as VIIRS). Particularly, long-term Chl-a data over open oceans can also be used as an additional source to evaluate ocean color satellite sensor performance. We show that accurate long-term and consistent MOBY in situ measurements can be used not only for the required system vicarious calibration for satellite ocean color data processing, but also can be used to characterize and monitor both the short-term and long-term sensor on-orbit performances.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics