Scattering by pure seawater: effect of salinity

Opt Express. 2009 Mar 30;17(7):5698-710. doi: 10.1364/oe.17.005698.


A theoretical model was developed estimating the scattering by seawater that are due to concentration fluctuation. Combining with the model proposed for density fluctuation (Optics Express, 17, 1671, 2009), we evaluated the overall effect of sea salts on the scattering. The variation of seawater scattering with the salinity is a combination of two factors: decreasing contribution due to density fluctuation and increasing contribution due to concentration fluctuation, with the latter effect dominating. The trend is, however, slightly non-linear and the linear adjustment of scattering with salinity that is frequently used would lead to an underestimate by an average of 2%. The results estimated at S = 38.4 per thousand agree with the measurements by Morel (Cahiers Oceanographiques, 20, 157, 1968) with an average difference of 1%, well within his experimental error of 2%. The spectral signature also varies with salinity, with the power-law slope increasing from -4.286 to -4.306 for salinity from 0 to 40 per thousand.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Computer Simulation
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Light
  • Models, Chemical*
  • Nephelometry and Turbidimetry / methods*
  • Refractometry / methods*
  • Salinity*
  • Scattering, Radiation
  • Seawater / analysis*
  • Seawater / chemistry*