## Abstract

We compute the scalar optical properties of size–shape distributions of wavelength-sized randomly oriented homogeneous particles with different nonaxially symmetric geometries and investigate how well they can be modeled with a simple spherical, spheroidal, or cylindrical particle model. We find that a spherical particle model can be used to determine the extinction and scattering cross sections, the single-scattering albedo, and the asymmetry parameter with an error of less than 2%, whereas the extinction-to-backscatter ratio ${R}_{\mathrm{eb}}$ is reproduced only with an error of 9%. The cylindrical and spheroidal particle models yield slightly improved results for ${R}_{\mathrm{eb}}$ that deviate from those obtained for the complex particle ensemble by 7% and 5%, respectively. Large discrepancies between results of the different models are observed for the linear depolarization ratio, thus indicating limitations of models based on simple particle shapes.

© 2002 Optical Society of America

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