We analyze the sensitivity of the degree of linear polarization in the Sun's principal plane as a function of aerosol microphysical parameters: the real and imaginary parts of the refractive index, the median radius and geometric standard deviation of the bimodal size distribution (both fine and coarse modes), and the relative number weight of the fine mode at a wavelength of . We use Mie theory for single-scattering simulations and the doubling–adding method with the inclusion of polarization for multiple scattering. It is shown that the behavior of the degree of linear polarization is highly sensitive to both the small mode of the bimodal size distribution and the real part of the refractive index of aerosols, as well as to the aerosol optical thickness; whereas not all parameters influence the polarization equally. A classification of the importance of the input parameters is given. This sensitivity study is applied to an analysis of ground-based polarization measurements. For the passive remote sensing of microphysical and optical properties of aerosols, a ground-based spectral polarization measuring system was built, which aims to measure the Stokes parameters I, Q, and U in the visible (from 410 to ) and near-infrared (from 674 to ) spectral range with a spectral resolution of in the visible and in the near infrared. We compare polarization measurements taken with radiative transfer simulations under both clear- and hazy-sky conditions in an urban area (Cabauw, The Netherlands, , ). Conclusions about the microphysical properties of aerosol are drawn from the comparison.
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