The application of circularly polarized laser radiation and measurement of the fourth Stokes parameter of scattered radiation considerably reduce the probability of obtaining ambiguous results for radiation depolarization in laser sensing of crystal clouds. The uncertainty arises when cloud particles appear partially oriented by their large diameters along a certain azimuth direction. Approximately in 30% of all cases, the measured depolarization depends noticeably on the orientation of the lidar reference plane with respect to the particle orientation direction. In this case, the corridor of the most probable depolarization values is about 0.1–0.15, but in individual cases, it can be noticeably wider. The present article considers theoretical aspects of this phenomenon and configuration of a lidar capable of measuring the fourth Stokes parameter together with an algorithm of lidar signal processing in the presence of optically thin cloudiness when molecular scattering cannot be neglected. It is demonstrated that the element a
44 of the normalized backscattering phase matrix (BSPM) can be measured. Results of measurements are independent of the presence or absence of azimuthal particle orientation. For sensing in the zenith or nadir, this element characterizes the degree of horizontal orientation of long particle diameters under the action of aerodynamic forces arising during free fall of particles.
©2009 Optical Society of America
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