The effect of internal structure (as a result of the humidity variation of the air) on the asymmetry coefficient and index of the scattering distribution of an ensemble of small hygroscopic and inhomogeneous particles is theoretically analyzed in the approximation of a polydisperse ensemble (of clarified, two-layer, and homogeneous spheres). Twenty-four fractions of aerosol particles of the boundary layer of a marine atmosphere are considered. It is shown that neglecting the radial inhomogeneity of the aerosol particles' structure can result in large errors (more than 50%) when estimating the asymmetry coefficient and can consequently cause large errors in calculations for the radiational and thermal regimes of the boundary layer of the atmosphere. © 2005 Optical Society of America

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