Single underwater image enhancement based on color cast removal and visibility restoration

Chongyi LI, Jichang GUO*, Bo WANG, Runmin CONG, Yan ZHANG, Jian WANG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Images taken under underwater condition usually have color cast and serious loss of contrast and visibility. Degraded underwater images are inconvenient for observation and analysis. In order to address these problems, an underwater image-enhancement method is proposed. A simple yet effective underwater image color cast removal algorithm is first presented based on the optimization theory. Then, based on the minimum information loss principle and inherent relationship of medium transmission maps of three color channels in an underwater image, an effective visibility restoration algorithm is proposed to recover visibility, contrast, and natural appearance of degraded underwater images. To evaluate the performance of the proposed method, qualitative comparison, quantitative comparison, and color accuracy test are conducted. Experimental results demonstrate that the proposed method can effectively remove color cast, improve contrast and visibility, and recover natural appearance of degraded underwater images. Additionally, the proposed method is comparable to and even better than several state-of-the-art methods.

Original languageEnglish
Article number033012
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Electronic Imaging
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 SPIE and IS&T.


  • color correction
  • contrast enhancement
  • underwater image enhancement
  • visibility restoration


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