Single image dehazing is a difficult problem because of its ill-posed nature. Increasing attention has been paid recently as its high potential applications in many visual tasks. Although single image dehazing has made remarkable progress in recent years, they are mainly designed for haze removal in daytime. In nighttime, dehazing is more challenging where most daytime dehazing methods become invalid due to multiple scattering phenomena, and non-uniformly distributed dim ambient illumination. While a few approaches have been proposed for nighttime image dehazing, low ambient light is actually ignored. In this paper, we propose a novel unified nighttime hazy image enhancement framework to address the problems of both haze removal and illumination enhancement simultaneously. Specifically, both halo artifacts caused by multiple scattering and non-uniformly distributed ambient illumination existing in low-light hazy conditions are considered for the first time in our approach. More importantly, most current daytime dehazing methods can be effectively incorporated into nighttime dehazing task based on our framework. Firstly, we decompose the observed hazy image into a halo layer and a scene layer to remove the influence of multiple scattering. After that, we estimate the spatially varying ambient illumination based on the Retinex theory. We then employ the classic daytime dehazing methods to recover the scene radiance. Finally, we generate the dehazing result by combining the adjusted ambient illumination and the scene radiance. Compared with various daytime dehazing methods and the state-of-the-art nighttime dehazing methods, both quantitative and qualitative experimental results on both real-world and synthetic hazy image datasets demonstrate the superiority of our framework in terms of halo mitigation, visibility improvement and color preservation.
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