The ability to understand the biogeophysical parameters that create ocean color in coastal waters is fundamental to exploiting remote sensing for coastal applications. The apparent color, which is the upwelling radiance of large water bodies is determined by the absorption and scattering of light caused by the water, the organic and inorganic material contained in the water, and the bottom, when the albedo is high enough and the water is shallow enough.
Bio-optical oceanography measures and models the interaction of the light field with the biological and nonbiological constituents of natural waters. One goal of optical oceanography is to be able to use measured radiance to identify and quantify water constituents, referred to as inherent optical properties (IOPs). Linking optical properties with measured water quality parameters often is made through radiative transfer models, in which the light field is modeled through the water and all of its constituents. This modeling is done to evaluate optical closure, which is the ability to accurately predict the upwelling radiance resulting from a known set of constituents.