The atmosphere is often divided into several homogeneous layers in simulations of radiative transfer in plane-parallel media. This artificial stratification introduces discontinuities in the vertical distribution of the inherent optical properties at boundaries between layers, which result in discontinuous radiances and irradiances at layer interfaces, which lead to errors in the radiative transfer simulations. To investigate the effect of the vertical discontinuity of the atmosphere on radiative transfer simulations, a simple two layer model with only aerosols and molecules and no gas absorption is used. The results show that errors larger than 10% for radiances and several percent for irradiances could be introduced if the atmosphere is not layered properly.
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