Abstract

We present an investigation of some important mathematical and numerical features related to the retrieval of microphysical parameters [complex refractive index, single-scattering albedo, effective radius, total number, surface area, and volume concentrations] of ambient aerosol particles using multiwavelength Raman or high-spectral-resolution lidar. Using simple examples, we prove the non-uniqueness of an inverse solution to be the major source of the retrieval difficulties. Some theoretically possible ways of partially compensating for these difficulties are offered. For instance, an increase in the variety of input data via combination of lidar and certain passive remote sensing instruments will be helpful to reduce the error of estimation of the complex refractive index. We also demonstrate a significant interference between Aitken and accumulation aerosol modes in our inversion algorithm, and confirm that the solutions can be better constrained by limiting the particle radii. Applying a combination of an analytical approach and numerical simulations, we explain the statistical behavior of the microphysical size parameters. We reveal and clarify why the total surface area concentration is consistent even in the presence of non-unique solution sets and is on average the most stable parameter to be estimated, as long as at least one extinction optical coefficient is employed. We find that for selected particle size distributions, the total surface area and volume concentrations can be quickly retrieved with fair precision using only single extinction coefficients in a simple arithmetical relationship.

© 2016 Optical Society of America

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