Evaluation of MERIS products from Baltic Sea coastal waters rich in CDOM
Abstract. In this study, retrievals of the medium resolution imaging spectrometer (MERIS) reflectances and water quality products using four different coastal processing algorithms freely available are assessed by comparison against sea-truthing data. The study is based on a pair-wise comparison using processor-dependent quality flags for the retrieval of valid common macro-pixels. This assessment is required in order to ensure the reliability of monitoring systems based on MERIS data, such as the Swedish coastal and lake monitoring system (http://vattenkvalitet.se). The results show that the pre-processing with the Improved Contrast between Ocean and Land (ICOL) processor, correcting for adjacency effects, improves the retrieval of spectral reflectance for all processors. Therefore, it is recommended that the ICOL processor should be applied when Baltic coastal waters are investigated. Chlorophyll was retrieved best using the FUB (Free University of Berlin) processing algorithm, although overestimations in the range 18–26.5%, dependent on the compared pairs, were obtained. At low chlorophyll concentrations (< 2.5 mg m−3), data dispersion dominated in the retrievals with the MEGS (MERIS ground segment processor) processor. The lowest bias and data dispersion were obtained with MEGS for suspended particulate matter, for which overestimations in the range of 8–16% were found. Only the FUB retrieved CDOM (coloured dissolved organic matter) correlate with in situ values. However, a large systematic underestimation appears in the estimates that nevertheless may be corrected for by using a local correction factor. The MEGS has the potential to be used as an operational processing algorithm for the Himmerfjärden bay and adjacent areas, but it requires further improvement of the atmospheric correction for the blue bands and better definition at relatively low chlorophyll concentrations in the presence of high CDOM attenuation.