The goal of this work is to study the influence of coccolithophore blooms on the underwater light field and albedo of the water column. A coccolithophore is a single-celled alga with spherical cells surrounded by disk-shaped calcite plates (coccolites), which produce strong light scattering. Because of that, we can observe coccolithophore blooms on satellite ocean color images. We calculated the angular underwater radiance distributions and their integral parameters by the exact numerical method with the input parameters, corresponding to real conditions observed in the Barents Sea and Black Sea. Using the results of the exact calculations, we estimated, for various situations, the accuracy of the approximating formulas applied to the assessment of the water radiance reflectance and the diffuse attenuation coefficients and we make recommendations for their application. As a finding of practical importance, we can note the estimate of the accuracy of the widely used Gordon’s formula for the diffuse attenuation coefficient; this formula results in large errors under strong coccolithophore blooms. We also mention the interesting and important results concerning the features of the asymptotic regime under such conditions.
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