Abstract

A dense volcanic cloud from the El Chichon volcanic eruption has been observed in the stratosphere over Hawaii since it was first discovered at the Mauna Loa Observatory 9 Apr. 1982. Lidar observations have shown the cloud to have been dense and highly layered in its early stages, but as the cloud matured it became more homogeneous and the top portion underwent considerable enhancement. Measurements of the degree of polarization of skylight at the zenith and across the sky in the sun’s vertical show that the polarization field is strongly modified by the effects of the cloud and that the modifications are of a different nature from those produced by high turbidity in the lower layers of the atmosphere. The degree of polarization at the zenith during twilight shows a secondary maximum at a solar depression D = 4.8–5°, a secondary minimum at D = 4°, a primary maximum at D = 1–2°, and a rapid decrease to values generally <10% in the immediate sunrise period. The positions of the neutral points are strongly affected by the cloud, the Arago point being shifted from its normal position by as much as 15–20° and the Babinet point being shifted even farther. Multiple Babinet points were observed on some occasions. The measurements indicate the polarization field to be modified more by the El Chichon cloud than it was by the clouds from previous eruptions which have occurred during this century.

© 1983 Optical Society of America

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