Light polarization under water near sunrise

Shai Sabbah, Nadav Shashar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Dramatic and rapid changes in the intensity and spectrum of light under water at dusk and dawn are well known, but reports regarding the lights polarization at these periods are sparse. Using a rapid spectropolarimeter, we examined the spatial and spectral characteristics of the underwater polarization patterns from sunrise to midday and compared them with a Rayleigh-based model for e-vector orientation and percent polarization. With the Sun near the horizon, the underwater polarization patterns were distinctive. Unlike the polarization at small solar zenith angles, the underwater polarization at large solar zenith angles cannot be predicted by simple Rayleigh scattering, most likely because of the relatively high contribution of skylight. At sunrise, the underwater polarization pattern outside of Snell's window differed from that found during the day in percent polarization, spatial distribution, and wavelength dependence. These unique polarization characteristics may provide a polarization-sensitive animal with a distinct cue for mediating dial vertical migration performed by plankton or with another timing signal.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2049-2056
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the Optical Society of America A: Optics and Image Science, and Vision
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes


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