Radiation from the ocean surface of light in the visible wavelengths gives information about the color of the ocean. This "ocean color" (radiances) can be used to estimate chlorophyll concentration (the pigment in plants and phytoplankton responsible for photosynthesis and the dominant source of color in the open ocean) or the coefficients of light attenuation through the water column and other parameters (generally related to biological processes). In coastal areas, other biological compounds and minerals add complexity to interpretation. Clouds will block remotely sensed OC.

The following list shows the various Ocean Color near real time and science quality data products available from NOAA CoastWatch