Dust and sulfate aerosols off U.S. east coast bias remotely sensed ocean color measurements Stephanie Schollaert The influence of two dominant aerosol species on satellite ocean color retrievals was examined off the U.S. east coast in the western Sargasso Sea. With appropriate atmospheric correction, satellite-derived water-leaving radiance (nLw) should be insensitive to the presence of atmospheric aerosols, but we found the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) spectra to be sensitive to the species and optical thickness of aerosols, as modelled by the Navy's Aerosol Analysis and Prediction System (NAAPS) and derived from the SeaWiFS satellite sensor respectively. Since chlorophyll a estimates are derived from a band ratio of nLw(442, 490, or 510 nm)/nLw(555), their accuracy depends upon a successful atmospheric correction. When aerosols were negligible, nLw spectra were consistent with in situ reference data between 443 and 510 nm. With increasing aerosol optical thickness during dust events, most common during summer, the nLw spectra were lowered between 412 and 510 nm, resulting in artificially high chlorophyll a estimates. Sulfate-dominated pixels were associated with elevated nLw spectra between 412 and 555 nm. Increasing sulfate optical thickness also biased the chlorophyll a estimates high. The effect of sulfate upon ocean color retrievals is more problematic than dust off the U.S. east coast because of the nearly constant presence of sulfate along with commonly colocated pollutant aerosols that confound atmospheric correction algorithms.