Abstract

The vertical distribution of the atmospheric aerosol generally differs from the vertical distribution of the molecular atmosphere. The resulting differences in the optical air masses of the aerosol and molecular constituents lead to a bias error in the solar constant inferred by the Langley method. This bias error was calculated for three characteristic aerosol height distributions, and it was found that this error becomes more significant when solar observations taken at large zenith angles are included in the Langley analysis. The bias error is not a sensitive function of wavelength or of the seasonal variation of the molecular atmosphere. Volcanic aerosol injected into the lower stratosphere can lead to large bias errors. These can be reduced significantly by using lidar to provide relatively crude measurements of the vertical distribution of the aerosol extinction coefficient.

© 1986 Optical Society of America

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