Abstract

The complete radiation field including polarization is calculated by the matrix operator method for a model of the real atmosphere. The radiance, direction and amount of polarization, and ellipticity are obtained at the top and bottom of the atmosphere for three values of the surface albedo (0, 0.15, 0.90) and five solar zenith angles. Scattering and absorption by molecules (including ozone) and by aerosols are taken into account together with the variation of the number density of these substances with height. All results are calculated for both a normal aerosol number and a distribution that is one-third of the normal amount at all heights. The calculated values show general qualitative agreement with the available experimental measurements. The position of the neutral points of the polarization in the principal plane is a sensitive indicator of the characteristics of the aerosol particles in the atmosphere, since it depends on the sign and value of the single scattered polarization for scattering angles around 20° and 160° for transmitted and reflected photons, respectively. This, in turn, depends on the index of refraction and size distribution of the aerosols. The neutral point position does not depend appreciably on the surface albedo and, over a considerable range, depends little on the solar zenith angle. The value of the maximum polarization in the principal plane depends on the aerosol amount, surface albedo, and solar zenith angle. It could be used to measure the aerosol amount. The details of the ellipticity curves are similar to those for scattering from pure aerosol layers and, thus, are little modified by the Rayleigh scattering. Aerosols could be identified by their characteristic ellipticity curves.

© 1976 Optical Society of America

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