Estimation of the underwater attenuation of light is important to ecosystem modellers, who require information on
Photosynthetically Available Radiation (PAR), and on the euphotic depth for calculation of primary production.
Characterisation of these processes can be achieved by determining the diffuse attenuation coefficient of PAR, KPAR . A
review of bio-optical models of the spectral diffuse attenuation coefficient for downwelling irradiance, Kd , is presented
and stresses the necessity for a better knowledge and parameterization of these coefficients.
In the second part of this work, radiative transfer simulations were carried out to model KdZ1% the spectral diffuse
attenuation of downwelling irradiance averaged over the euphotic depth Z1% (depth where the downwelling irradiance is
1% of its surface value). This model takes into account the effects of varying sun zenith angle and cloud cover and needs
absorption and backscattering coefficients (the inherent optical properties, IOPs) as input. It provides average and
maximum relative errors of 1% and 5% respectively, for sun zenith angles [0°-50°] and of 1.7% and 12% respectively at
higher sun zenith angles. A relationship was established between KdZ1% at a single wavelength (590nm) and KPAR at
ZPAR1% (where PAR is 1% of its value at the surface) which allows for a direct expression of KPARZPAR1% in terms of
inherent optical properties, sun angle and cloudiness. This model provides estimates of KPAR within 25% (respectively
40%) relative errors respectively with a mean relative error less than 7% (respectively 9%) for sun zenith angles ranging
from 0° to 50° (respectively higher than 50°). A similar method is applied to derive a model for the diffuse attenuation of
photosynthetically usable radiation, KPURZPUR1% , with similar performance.