We report the results of high-accuracy controlled laboratory measurements of the Stokes reflection matrix for suspensions of submicrometer-sized latex particles in water and compare them with the results of a numerically exact computer solution of the vector radiative transfer equation (VRTE). The quantitative performance of the VRTE is monitored by increasing the volume packing density of the latex particles from 2% to 10%. Our results indicate that the VRTE can be applied safely to random particulate media with packing densities up to . VRTE results for packing densities of the order of 5% should be taken with caution, whereas the polarized bidirectional reflectivity of suspensions with larger packing densities cannot be accurately predicted. We demonstrate that a simple modification of the phase matrix entering the VRTE based on the so-called static structure factor can be a promising remedy that deserves further examination.
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