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Applied Optics

Applied Optics


  • Vol. 42, Iss. 12 — Apr. 20, 2003
  • pp: 2140–2154

Retrieval of stratospheric aerosol size and composition information from solar infrared transmission spectra

Helen M. Steele, Annmarie Eldering, Bhaswar Sen, Geoffrey C. Toon, Franklin P. Mills, and Brian H. Kahn  »View Author Affiliations

Applied Optics, Vol. 42, Issue 12, pp. 2140-2154 (2003)

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Infrared transmission spectra were recorded by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory MkIV interferometer during flights aboard the NASA DC-8 aircraft as part of the Airborne Arctic Stratospheric Expedition II (AASE II) mission in the early months of 1992. In our research, we infer the properties of the stratospheric aerosols from these spectra. The MkIV instrument employs two different detectors, a HgCdTe photoconductor for 650–1850 cm-1 and an InSb photodiode for 1850–5650 cm-1, to simultaneously record the solar intensity throughout the mid-infrared. These spectra have been used to retrieve the concentrations of a large number of gases, including chlorofluorocarbons, NO y species, O3, and ozone-depleting gases. We demonstrate how the residual continua spectra, obtained after accounting for the absorbing gases, can be used to obtain information about the stratospheric aerosols. Infrared extinction spectra are calculated for a range of modeled aerosol size distributions and compositions with Mie theory and fitted to the measured residual spectra. By varying the size distribution parameters and sulfate weight percent, we obtain the microphysical properties of the aerosols that best fit the observations. The effective radius of the aerosols is found to be between 0.4 and 0.6 μm, consistent with that derived from a large number of instruments in this post-Pinatubo period. We demonstrate how different parts of the spectral range can be used to constrain the range of possible values of this size parameter and show how the broad spectral bandpass of the MkIV instrument presents a great advantage for retrieval of both aerosol size and composition over instruments with a more limited spectral range. The aerosol composition that provides the best fit to the measured spectra is a 70–75% sulfuric acid solution, in good agreement with that obtained from thermodynamic considerations.

© 2003 Optical Society of America

OCIS Codes
(010.1100) Atmospheric and oceanic optics : Aerosol detection
(010.1110) Atmospheric and oceanic optics : Aerosols
(010.1280) Atmospheric and oceanic optics : Atmospheric composition
(280.1100) Remote sensing and sensors : Aerosol detection
(280.1310) Remote sensing and sensors : Atmospheric scattering
(290.2200) Scattering : Extinction

Original Manuscript: August 22, 2002
Revised Manuscript: December 19, 2002
Published: April 20, 2003

Helen M. Steele, Annmarie Eldering, Bhaswar Sen, Geoffrey C. Toon, Franklin P. Mills, and Brian H. Kahn, "Retrieval of stratospheric aerosol size and composition information from solar infrared transmission spectra," Appl. Opt. 42, 2140-2154 (2003)

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