An inversion method for the characterization of atmospheric condensed phases from infrared (IR) spectra is described. The method is tested with both synthetic IR spectra and the spectra of particles that flow in a cryogenic flow tube. The method is applied to the IR spectra recorded by the Atmospheric Trace Molecule Spectroscopy instrument carried by the Space Shuttle during three missions in 1992, 1993, and 1994. The volume density and particle size distribution for sulfate aerosol are obtained as a function of altitude. The density and size distribution of ice particles in several cirrus clouds are also retrieved. The probable radius of the ice particles in the high-altitude (10–15-km) cirrus clouds is found to be approximately 6–7 μm.
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