Nighttime water-leaving radiance is a function of the depth-dependent distribution of both the in situ bioluminescence emissions and the absorption and scattering properties of the water. The vertical distributions of these parameters were used as inputs for a modified one-dimensional radiative transfer model to solve for spectral bioluminescence water-leaving radiance from prescribed depths of the water column. Variation in the water-leaving radiance was consistent with local episodic physical forcing events, with tidal forcing, terrestrial runoff, particulate accumulation, and biological responses influencing the shorter timescale dynamics. There was a >90 nm shift in the peak water-leaving radiance from blue (~474 nm) to green as light propagated to the surface. In addition to clues in ecosystem responses to physical forcing, the temporal dynamics in intensity and spectral quality of water-leaving radiance provide suitable ranges for assessing detection. This may provide the information needed to estimate the depth of internal light sources in the ocean, which is discussed in part 2 of this paper.



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An edited version of this paper was published by AGU.

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