Water Color

One of the most immediately apparent attributes of many natural waters and one that, together with visual clarity, strongly influences human aesthetic perception and recreational use. Color of waters is a guide to their composition, and remote sensing of water color is increasingly being used to infer water quality, particularly suspended solids and phytoplankton concentrations. The color of water, with water considered a translucent (i.e., not transparent) material, is commonly associated with transmitted light, for example, the color seen by a diver beneath the water’s surface. However, the color of natural waters as observed from above is that associated with the upwelling light field that results from back scattering of sunlight illuminating the water volume. In this manner, the color of natural waters can be objectively specified using their spectral Reflectance, where the reflectance is defined as the ratio of the upwelling light to incident (downwelling) light.