An entirely rigorous method for the solution of the equations for radiative transfer based on the matrix operator theory is reviewed. The advantages of the present method are: (1) all orders of the reflection and transmission matrices are calculated at once; (2) layers of any thickness may be combined, so that a realistic model of the atmosphere can be developed from any arbitrary number of layers, each with different properties and thicknesses; (3) calculations can readily be made for large optical depths and with highly anisotropic phase functions; (4) results are obtained for any desired value of the surface albedo including the value unity and for a large number of polar and azimuthal angles including the polar angle θ = 0°; (5) all fundamental equations can be interpreted immediately in terms of the physical interactions appropriate to the problem; (6) both upward and downward radiance can be calculated at interior points from relatively simple expressions. Both the general theory and its history together with the method of calculation are discussed. As a first example of the method numerous curves are given for both the reflected and transmitted radiance for Rayleigh scattering from a homogeneous layer for a range of optical thicknesses from 0.0019 to 4096, surface albedo A = 0, 0.2, and 1, and cosine of solar zenith angle μ = 1, 0.5397, and 0.1882. It is shown that the matrix operator approach contains the doubling method as a special case.
© 1973 Optical Society of America
Original Manuscript: May 24, 1972
Published: February 1, 1973
Gilbert N. Plass, George W. Kattawar, and Frances E. Catchings, "Matrix Operator Theory of Radiative Transfer. 1: Rayleigh Scattering," Appl. Opt. 12, 314-329 (1973)