Abstract

The absorption and scattering of oceanic aerosols are characterized using low- and high-power lasers in the near IR (1.064μm). The imaginary part of the refractive index of sea salt inferred from low-power absorption measurements is 200× less than the commonly accepted value from the literature. The measured absorption coefficients of natural and artificial saltwater are within 5% of the absorption of pure water (0.14cm1). High-power aerosol experiments are consistent with low-power liquid absorption measurements, which yield comparable absorption coefficients for pure water and saltwater. High-power illumination of test aerosols (CuSO4·5H2O) with an absorption coefficient α0.19cm1 and a dwell time of 100ms results in a consistent reduction in scattering from the aerosol column. The high-power laser scattering measurements are in good agreement with the theory, which accounts for the absorption, heating, and vaporization of the water-based aerosols. The measured absorption of oceanic aerosols in the laboratory is much less than the literature values at 1.064μm and should result in reduced heating and thermal blooming in open ocean atmospheres.

© 2009 Optical Society of America

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