Abstract

A method has been developed for retrieving the scattering and microphysical properties of atmospheric aerosol from measurements of solar transmission, aureole, and angular distribution of the scattered and polarized sky light in the solar principal plane. Numerical simulations of measurements have been used to investigate the feasibility of the method and to test the algorithm’s performance. It is shown that the absorption and scattering properties of an aerosol, i.e., the single-scattering albedo, the phase function, and the polarization for single scattering of incident unpolarized light, can be obtained by use of radiative transfer calculations to correct the values of scattered radiance and polarized radiance for multiple scattering, Rayleigh scattering, and the influence of ground. The method requires only measurement of the aerosol’s optical thickness and an estimate of the ground’s reflectance and does not need any specific assumption about properties of the aerosol. The accuracy of the retrieved phase function and polarization of the aerosols is examined at near-infrared wavelengths (e.g., 0.870 µm). The aerosol’s microphysical properties (size distribution and complex refractive index) are derived in a second step. The real part of the refractive index is a strong function of the polarization, whereas the imaginary part is strongly dependent on the sky’s radiance and the retrieved single-scattering albedo. It is demonstrated that inclusion of polarization data yields the real part of the refractive index.

© 2000 Optical Society of America

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