Color of the Sea

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Color of the Sea


the color perceived by an observer when looking at the surface of the sea. The color of the sea depends on the color of the seawater, the color of the sky, the number and types of clouds, the height of the sun above the horizon, and other factors.

The concept of the color of the sea should not be confused with the concept of the color of seawater. The latter means the color perceived by the eye when looking perpendicularly at the surface of seawater against a white background. Only a negligible part of the incident light rays are reflected from the surface of the sea; most penetrate into the water, where they are absorbed and dispersed by water molecules, particles of suspended substances, and tiny gas bubbles. The dispersed rays are reflected and emerge from the sea, creating the color of the sea. Water molecules disperse dark blue and green rays most strongly, while suspended particles disperse all rays equally. Therefore, seawater with a small amount of suspended material appears blue-green (for example, the open sea), whereas seawater with considerable suspended material appears yellow-green (for example, the Baltic Sea).

The theoretical aspects of the study of the sea’s color were worked out by V. V. Shuleikin and C. V. Raman.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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