We report the results of an extensive study of the scattering of light by size and size–shape distributions of randomly oriented prolate and oblate spheroids with the index of refraction 1.5 + 0.02i typical of some mineral terrestrial aerosols. The scattering calculations have been carried out with Waterman’s T-matrix approach, as developed recently by Mishchenko [J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 8, 871 (1991); Appl. Opt. 32, 4562 (1993)]. Our main interest is in light scattering by polydisperse models of nonspherical particles because averaging over sizes provides more realistic modeling of natural ensembles of scattering particles and washes out the interference structure and ripple typical of monodisperse scattering patterns, thus enabling us to derive meaningful conclusions about the effects of particle nonsphericity on light scattering. Following Hansen and Travis [Space Sci. Rev. 16, 527 (1974)], we show that scattering properties of most physically plausible size distributions of randomly oriented nonspherical particles depend primarily on the effective equivalent-sphere radius and effective variance of the distribution, the actual shape of the distribution having a minor influence. To minimize the computational burden, we have adopted a computationally convenient power law distribution of particle equivalent-sphere radii n(r) ∝ r−3, r1 ≤ r ≤ r2. The effective variance of the size distribution is fixed at 0.1, and the effective size parameter continuously varies from 0 to 15. We present results of computer calculations for 24 prolate and oblate spheroidal shapes with aspect ratios from 1.1 to 2.2. The elements of the scattering matrix for the whole range of size parameters and scattering angles are displayed in the form of contour plots. Computational results are compared with analogous calculations for surface-equivalent spheres, and the effects of particle shape on light scattering are discussed in detail.
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