ESA Earth Home Missions Data Products Resources Applications
EO Data Access
How to Apply
How to Access
Reference documents
MERIS Product Handbook
MERIS Product Handbook
MERIS Product Handbook
MERIS Credits
MERIS Data Formats Products
MERIS Glossary and reference documents
Optics Glossary
Vegetation Glossary
Water Vapour Glossary
Ocean Colour Glossary
Neural Network Glossary
Meteorology Glossary
Cloud Glossary
Atmosphere Glossary
Product Glossary
Geometry Glossary
Acronyms and Abbreviations
MERIS Instrument
Instrument Characteristics and Performance
MERIS Quality Status
Instrument characteristic
Characterisation and Calibration
Onboard Calibration Hardware
Calibration Modes
Instrument Description
Instrument model philosophy
Instrument Concept
Digital processing Unit
Video Electronic Unit
Detection Focal Plane
Instrument optics
The MERIS instrument
MERIS Products and Algorithms
Auxiliary Files
Common Auxiliary Datasets
Auxiliary Datasets for Level 2 Processing
Auxiliary Datasets for Level 1b Processing
Summary of Auxiliary Datasets
Water Vapour Parameters Data File
Atmosphere Parameters Data File
Level 2 Control Parameters Data File
Aerosol Climatology Data File
Coastline/Land/Ocean Data File
Digital Roughness Model Data File
Radiometric Calibration Data File
MERIS Level 1b Control Parameters Data File
Digital Elevation Model
ECMWF Data Files
ENVISAT Orbit Data Files
Surface Confidence Map File
Land Vegetation Index Parameters Data File
Cloud Measurement Parameters Data File
Ocean II Parameters Data File
Ocean I Parameters Data File
Land Aerosols Parameters Data File
Ocean Aerosols Parameters Data File
MERIS Instrument Data File
MERIS-Specific Topics
Level 2 Products and Algorithms
Level 2 Products
Level 2 Geophysical Products
Annotation data set
Water Vapour products
Land products
Meris Terrestrial Chlorophyll Index
Meris Global Vegetation Index
Aerosol Angström Coefficient
Aerosol optical thickness
Cloud products
Cloud reflectance
Cloud Type
Cloud top pressure
Cloud albedo
Cloud optical thickness
Ocean products
The MERIS Aerosol Angström Coefficient
Aerosol optical thickness
Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR)
Yellow substance
Suspended matter
Algal Pigment Index II
Algal Pigment Index I
Normalized water leaving radiance / reflectance
Product description
Level 2 High-Level Organisation of Products
Full Resolution Geophysical Product
Extracted Vegetation Indices
Extracted Cloud Thickness and Water Vapour for Meteo Users
Extracted Cloud Thickness and Water Vapour
Reduced Resolution Geophysical Product
Level 2 Algorithms
Level 2 Accuracies
Level 2 Algorithm Description
MERIS Level 2 Product Formatting Algorithm
Measurement Data Sets
Annotation Data Set "Tie Points Location and corresponding Auxiliary Data"
Global Annotation Data Set - Scaling Factors
Annotation Data Set "Summary Product Quality"
Specific Product Header
Main Product Header
MERIS Land Pixels Processing
MERIS Bottom Of Atmosphere Vegetation Index (BOAVI) (step 2.8)
Atmospheric correction over land (step 2.6.23)
MERIS Top Of Atmosphere Vegetation Index (TOAVI) (step 2.2)
Water Processing
MERIS Ocean Colour Processing (step 2.9)
Clear water atmospheric corrections (step 2.6.9)
Turbid water screening and corrections (steps 2.6.8, 2.6.10)
Water Confidence Checks (step 2.6.5)
Cloud Processing
Cloud type processing (step 2.4.8)
Cloud Optical Thickness processing (step 2.4.3)
Cloud Albedo processing (step 2.4.1)
Total Water Vapour Retrieval
Water vapour polynomial (function)
Range checks (steps 2.3.0, 2.3.6)
Water vapour retrieval over clouds (step 2.3.3)
Water vapour retrieval over water surfaces (steps 2.3.2, 2.3.5)
Water vapour retrieval over land surfaces (step 2.3.1)
MERIS Pixel Identification
Land Identification (step 2.6.26) and Smile Effect Correction (step 2.1.6)
Gaseous absorption corrections (step 2.6.12)
Stratospheric Aerosol Correction (step 2.1.9)
Cloud screening (steps 2.1.2, 2.1.7, 2.1.8)
MERIS Pressure Processing
Atmospheric pressure confidence tests (steps 2.1.2)
Atmospheric pressure estimate (steps 2.1.5, 2.1.12)
MERIS Pre-processing
Pre processing step
Level 1b product check
Level 2 Physical Justification
Level 1b Products and Algorithms
Level 1b product definition
Browse Products
Level 1b Essential Product Confidence Data
Level 1b Engineering Quantities
Level 1b Accuracies
Level 1b High-Level Organisation of Products
Measurement Data Sets
Annotation Data Set "Product Quality"
Annotation Data Set "Tie Points Location and corresponding Auxiliary Data"
Global Annotation Data Set
Specific Product Header
Main Product Header
Full Resolution Geolocated and Calibration TOA Radiance
Reduced Resolution Geolocated and Calibration TOA Radiance
Level 1b Algorithms
External Data Assimilation
Pixel Classification
Stray Light Correction
Radiometric Processing
Saturated Pixels
Source Data Packet Extraction
Level 0 Products
Product Evolution History
Definitions and Conventions
Notations and Conventions
Product Grid
Organisation of Products
MERIS product data structure
File naming convention
Acquisition identification scheme
Product identification scheme
Latency, Throughput and Data Volume
MERIS products overview
MERIS product types
Full and reduced resolutions
MERIS product processing levels
MERIS User Guide
Image gallery
How to Use MERIS Data
Software Tools
General Tools
How to Choose MERIS Data
Summary of Applications vs. Products
Special Features of MERIS
Geographical Coverage
Principles of Measurement
Scientific Background
Mission Objectives
MERIS Level 3 products
Geophysical Measurements
MERIS Product Handbook
Site Map
Frequently asked questions
Terms of use
Contact us


4.2.6 Ocean Colour Glossary

Table 4.7 - Ocean Colour Glossary.


A term that describes the loss of electromagnetic energy (solar radiation) as it passes through the atmosphere owing to absorption and scattering by atmospheric particles and molecules.


Biogenous sediment is derived from living organisms, normally plankton organisms, that have shells which are resistant to dissolution or destruction. The most common shell materials for plankton are calcite (CaCO3 or calcium carbonate) and opal (SiO2 or silica).


A population burst of phytoplankton that remains within a defined part of the water column.

case 1 waters

Those oceanic or coastal waters where the ocean colour is determined by algal pigments.

case 2 waters

All oceanic or coastal waters which are not case I waters.


Pigments found in plant cells that are active in harnessing energy during photosynthesis.


A small round body found in chalk formations.


Particulate material that enters into a marine or aquatic system.


A major phytoplankton group characterised by cells enclosed in silicon frustules, or shells.

euphotic zone

In the ocean, the sunlit layer consisting of the upper 100 m or so in which most of the primary productivity takes place. The depth varies geographically and seasonally and can range from a few metres in turbid waters near the shore to 120 m in the Sargasso Sea. It is a zone with sharp gradients in illumination, temperature and salinity, and is the upper of three vertical zones that comprise the pelagic part of the ocean, the other two being the middle mesopelagic and the lower bathypelagic zones. It is also known as the photic zone.

eutrophic waters

Water bodies or habitats having high concentrations of nutrients.


The re-emission of light energy at a lower frequency by an absorber illuminated with optical energy. The response is usually immediate and on order 1 to 3% of the incident intensity.


Dissolved material in sea water that is resistant to bacterial attack. Its name comes from the yellow colour it imparts to the water. Brown algae, the principal algae group growing in coastal waters of temperature and higher latitudes, excrete phenolic compounds. These polyphenols are converted into a brown polymer by secondary reactions with carbohydrates and proteins of algal origin. The properties of the resulting substance are identical with Gelbstoff. Its concentration in sea water is around 1 mg/l and it is removed mainly by precipitation since its phenolic nature renders it resistant to bacterial attack. This is also known as yellow substance or gilvin.


See Gelbstoff.


A layer in water where the salinity changes rapidly.


Refers to the ability of an organism to manufacture its own food. It must obtain it from other organisms, living or dead, and it is said to depend on external nourishment.

mesotrophic waters

A state of a water body within a soil which is intermediate in character between an eutrophic and an oligotrophic state, as far as its nutrients are concerned.

mixed layer

In oceanography, a nearly isothermal surface layer of around 40 to 150 m depth caused by wind stirring and convection.

oligotrophic waters

Refers to water bodies or habitats with low concentrations of nutrients.

packaging effect

The optical properties of a water sample varies if suspended particles gather in groups (are "packed") or divide (cell growth).

particulate organic matter

The suspended particle load that controls the chemistry of the oceans. The physical and chemical properties of the particles control how rapidly a chemical species is removed from solution and incorporated in sediment.


The process in plants by which carbon dioxide is converted into organic compounds using the energy of light absorbed by chlorophyll, which in all plants except some bacteria involves the production of oxygen from water.


One of two groups into which plankton are divided, the other being zooplankton. Phytoplankton comprise all the freely floating photosynthetic forms in the oceans, i.e., they are free-floating microscopic plants which, having little mobility, are distributed by ocean currents.


A substance giving colour to animal or vegetable tissues.


The radiation energy per unit time coming from a specific direction and passing through a unit area perpendicular to the direction.


In radiation transfer, the fraction of incoming radiation that is reflected from a medium. The sum of this, the transmittance, and the absorption must equal unity.

Secchi Disc

A white target lowered from a vessel and viewed from above the surface in full solar illumination to estimate the attenuation in the water column.


Depth zone within which temperature gradient is at a maximum.

total suspended matter

Particulates ranging in size from less than 0.1 micrometre to 50 micrometres are called Total Suspended Particulates (TSP).


The weight of particulate matter per unit volume of sea water.


The movement of nutrient-rich water from a specified depth to the surface.


The air/water emulsion occurring at the top of ocean surface waves under high winds.

yellow substance

See Gelbstoff .


Animal members of the plankton family.

Keywords: ESA European Space Agency - Agence spatiale europeenne, observation de la terre, earth observation, satellite remote sensing, teledetection, geophysique, altimetrie, radar, chimique atmospherique, geophysics, altimetry, radar, atmospheric chemistry