This paper studies the measurement requirements of spectral resolution and radiometric sensitivity to enable the quantitative determination of water constituents and benthic parameters for the majority of optically deep and optically shallow waters on Earth. The spectral and radiometric variability is investigated by simulating remote sensing reflectance (Rrs
) spectra of optically deep water for twelve inland water scenarios representing typical and extreme concentration ranges of phytoplankton, colored dissolved organic matter and non-algal particles. For optically shallow waters, Rrs
changes induced by variable water depth are simulated for fourteen bottom substrate types, from lakes to coastal waters and coral reefs. The required radiometric sensitivity is derived for the conditions that the spectral shape of Rrs
should be resolvable with a quantization of 100 levels and that measurable reflection differences at at least one wavelength must occur at concentration changes in water constituents of 10% and depth differences of 20 cm. These simulations are also used to derive the optimal spectral resolution and the most sensitive wavelengths. Finally, the Rrs
spectra and their changes are converted to radiances and radiance differences in order to derive sensor (noise-equivalent radiance) and measurement requirements (signal-to-noise ratio) at the water surface and at the top of the atmosphere for a range of solar zenith angles.
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