Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) can map water conditions at high spatial (horizontal and vertical) and temporal resolution, including under cloudy conditions when satellite and airborne remote sensing are not feasible. As part of the RADYO program, we deployed a passive radiometer on an AUV in the Santa Barbara Channel and off the coast of Hawaii to apply existing bio-optical algorithms for characterizing the optical constituents of coastal seawater (i.e., dissolved organic material, algal biomass, and other particles). The spectral differences between attenuation coefficients were computed from ratios of downwelling irradiance measured at depth and used to provide estimates of the in-water optical constituents. There was generally good agreement between derived values of absorption and concurrent measurements of this inherent optical property in Santa Barbara Channel. Wave focusing, cloud cover, and low attenuation coefficients influenced results off the coast of Hawaii and are used to evaluate the larger-scale application of these methods in the near surface coastal oceans.



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