Abstract

We have analyzed three methods that can be used to determine the integrated water vapor of the atmosphere in the 940-nm band by means of modeled and measured direct solar spectral irradiance. The experimental irradiance data were obtained with a commercial LI-COR 1800 spectroradiometer, based on a monochromator system, of high to moderate spectral resolution (6 nm) in the 300–1100-nm range. The modeled data are based on monochromatic approaches to determine atmospheric transmittance constituents; for those of water vapor we used the lowtran7 model. The first method is a curve-fitting procedure that makes use of the entire shape band absorption information to retrieve a unique water-vapor value. The second method makes use of the monochromatic approach of the absorption transmittance formula to determine the amount of water vapor at each wavelength of the absorption band, and the third method is the classic differential absorption technique suitably applied to our data. Spectral analysis showed the advantages and disadvantages of each method, such as problems linked to the various spectral resolutions of the experimental and the modeled data, the width of the spectral range used to define the water-vapor absorption band, and the dependence of the retrieval on the choice of the two selected wavelengths in the last-named technique. All these problems were considered so they could be avoided or minimized and the associated errors estimated. We used the methods to determine water-vapor values for the period from March to November 1995 at a rural station in Vallodolid, Spain, allowing for the evaluation of the differences in real monitoring conditions. Finally, the contribution of continuum absorption was also evaluated, yielding lower water-vapor values between 13 and 30%. These differences were considerably greater than those that were due to the problems that we have just enumerated.

© 1998 Optical Society of America

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