About us

Welcome to the Atmospheric and Ocean Optics Group led by Dr. Pengwang Zhai in the Department of Physics, UMBC. We strike to understand how light interacts with turbid media and develop innovative remote sensing algorithms for the environment.  There are a plethora of fascinating atmospheric and ocean optics phenomena that people observe daily: rainbow, sun dog, glory, halo, green flash, mirage, Fresnel cone, bioluminescent waves, ocean color, etc. The physical principles behind these phenomena are even more enchanting which not only feed our hunger for knowledge but also have a great deal of applications in remote sensing of environment and consequently enhance our understanding of the dynamics of the Earth system.

Our group performs research in understanding and application of atmospheric and oceanic radiation.  We develop a full suite of theoretical tools to simulate light scattering by non-spherical particles, including aerosols (particles in air) and hydrosols (particles in ocean waters); radiative transfer in coupled atmosphere and ocean, and remote sensing algorithms of aerosols and ocean color using polarimetric and spectral measurements. Our radiative transfer model uniquely combines all major physical mechanism of light - matter interaction in nature: polarization, atmosphere and ocean coupling, elastic and inelastic scattering, which becomes very important in simulating high accuracy and realistic light intensity field in various part of the atmosphere and ocean system.

To learn more about us and our work, please check out the research and people sections!