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The Florida State University

Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 1

Atmospheric

Transmission

Topics

1) Concepts: Extinction, Scattering, and Absorption Coefficients (AR7.1)

2) Extinction over a finite path. (AR7.2)

2.1) Different approaches to modeling

2.2) More general definitions

2.3) Non-homogeneous environments

3) Optical Depth (AR7.3)

4) Applications (AR7.4)

4.1) Transmission Spectrum of the atmosphere

4.2) Measuring Solar Intensity from the ground

4.3) Transmittance in an exponential atmosphere

4.4) Optical thickness and transmission of a cloud layer

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 2

Background and Related Review

• We have modeled absorption assuming a constant, non-zero, value for

the imaginary component of the index of refraction.

• t

λ

(x) = exp(–β

a

x )

• where

• and x is the distance traveled through the medium.

4 4

i i

a

n n

c

¬i ¬

,

A

= =

• Our description of transmission through the atmosphere has been a

little hazy.

• All applications have assumed a homogenous atmosphere.

• The only processes that we have discussed for diminishing the

transmittance are reflection (non-zero reflectivity) and absorption.

• Absorption is the transfer of radiative energy to either thermal

or chemical energy.

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 3

New Considerations

• The first is the consideration of scattering in addition to absorption.

• In the real world, radiation can be scattered as well as absorbed.

• Scattering means that the direction changes without absorption.

• The absorption coefficient (β

a

) will be modified accordingly.

• The transmittance equation can be conceptually modified to apply to

only direct transmission.

• The second is the consideration of non-homogeneous environments.

• The absorption and scattering properties will change depending on the

location in the atmosphere.

• Therefore we will start with a differential equation, equivalent to the

transmittance equation, for which we can consider the change in

transmittance over an infinitesimally small distance.

• Later we will also consider that the radiation can also be scattered into the

direction of propagation.

• We will make the transmittance equation more general in two ways.

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 4

Example of Scattering

• Example wave of

electromagnetic

magnetic radiation

scattering off a particle.

• It is not absorbed then

emitted.

• Portions of it change

direction.

Graphic from A First Course in Atmospheric Radiation by G. W. Petty

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 5

Example of Scattering and Absorption I

• The following example comes from C. Bohren’s Clouds in a Glass of Beer,

and from Petty’s Atmospheric Radiation.

• Imagine three Petrie dishes, each partially filled with water.

• Set these on an overhead projector

• The water absorbs a negligible portion of the flux density.

water

water

water

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 6

Example of Scattering and Absorption II

• On the projection screen, the milk and ink dishes both look black.

• However, the blackness occurs for different reasons

• The ink absorbs the light, and

• The milk scatters the light

Graphic from A First Course in Atmospheric Radiation by G. W. Petty

Viewed looking towards the screen

• Add several drops of India ink to one dish, and several teaspoons of

milk to another dish.

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 7

Example of Scattering and Absorption II:

Verification

• Approach 1: View the dishes from the side, against a dark background.

• The ink dish appears to be nearly black.

• The milk dish ‘lights up’ due to illumination from the projector.

• The light beam is redirected towards your eyes.

• How do we know that the light is not absorbed and emitted?

• Approach 2: measure the rate of change in temperature of the fluid in both

dishes.

• The ink dish heats more rapidly than the milk dish.

• Therefore the ink dish is absorbing light (energy) more rapidly than the

milk dish.

• How would you verify that the ink absorbs the light, and that the milk

scatters the light? Assume that we have a real overhead projector with

the Petrie dishes.

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 8

What Does the Previous Experiment

Tell Us about Modeling Transmittance?

• Clearly there are two mechanisms by which EMR can be removed from the

direct beam: absorption and scattering.

• If India ink is added to the Petrie dish containing milk, then both

mechanisms come into play. How do we revise

t

λ

(x) = exp(–β

a

x )

to model these considerations?

• Replace the absorption coefficient (β

a

) with an extinction coefficient (β

e

)

that accounts for both processes: t

λ

(x) = exp(–β

e

x ).

• Where β

e

= β

a

+ β

s

.

• For the original milk solution β

a

≈ 0, therefore β

e

≈ β

s

.

• For the India ink solution β

s

≈ 0, therefore β

e

≈ β

a

.

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 9

Singular Scatter Albedo

low ~0 wavelength dependent

High <1 wavelength dependent

High near 1 wavelength independent

weak <<1 ~ wavelength independent

low near 1 wavelength dependent

.

s

s a

,

.

, ,

=

÷

• For some applications it is very important to know the relative importance of

scattering and absorption.

• This relative importance is described by the singular scatter albedo ( ).

.

• Examples β

e

Wavelength Dependence

• Red wine

• Chocolate Milk

• A Cloud

• Diesel Truck Exhaust

• Cloud Free Atmosphere

• The singular scatter albedo ranges from zero (total absorption) to 1 (total

scattering).

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 10

Extinction Over a Finite Path

- The Fundamentals -

• For work in an atmosphere, we should consider the following.

• An extinction coefficient that is spatially dependent (varies with

location).

• A path that is not necessarily aligned with the x-axis.

• The path alignment is dealt with (somewhat superficially) by replacing x

with a distance s.

• We continue to assume that over an infinitesimal distance (ds) the

extinction coefficient (β

e

) is constant, and that the rate of change in

intensity (dI

λ

) is negative and proportional to the intensity (I

λ

).

• dI

λ

= I

λ

(s+ds) − I

λ

(s) = −I

λ

(s) β

e

(s) ds, or the familiar

•

( )

d

dlog d

e

I

I s

I

A

A

A

, = =÷

• If the extinction coefficient is constant with respect to location and

time, it is very easy to model transmission over any path. However, in

the real world….

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 11

Going Beyond An Infinitesimal Path

• This equation is a more general form of Beer’s law.

• In the next slides we will summarize (review) previous simplified

statements in terms of Beer’s law.

• To make the previous equation apply to a finite, but not infinitesimal,

path length (s), we must integrate the equation.

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

2

1

2 1

log log d

s

e

s

I s I s s s

A A

, ÷ =÷

]

• Integrating from s

1

to s

2

results in

( ) ( ) ( )

2

1

2 1

exp d

s

e

s

I s I s s s

A A

,

l

= ÷

l

l

l

]

• Taking the exponent of both sides results in

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 12

Optical Path

• Optical path is also known as optical depth or optical thickness for

applications that are purely vertical.

• The optical path is dimensionless. How would you explain this?

• Optical depth can have any value from zero to infinity.

• It is zero when s

1

= s

2

, and when

• β = 0 at all points between s

1

= s

2

.

• Otherwise it is positive.

• Recall that ( ) ( ) ( )

2

1

2 1

exp d

s

e

s

I s I s s s

A A

,

l

= ÷

l

l

l

]

( )

2

1

d

s

e

s

s s t , =

]

• The optical path (τ) is the integral of the extinction coefficient in the

above equation.

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 13

Transmittance

• If β

e

is constant between s

1

and s

2

, then τ = β

e

(s

2

− s

1

).

• Recall that ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

( )

2

1 2

1

,

2 1 1

exp d e

s

s s

e

s

I s I s s s I s

t

A A A

,

÷

l

= ÷ =

l

l

l

]

• The transmittance t(s

1

,s

2

) is equal to e

−τ

, where τ is the optical path

from s

1

to s

2

.

( ) ( ) ( )

2 1 1 2

, I s I s t s s

A A

=

• The transmittance can have values from zero to one.

• t = 0 when τ → ∞, and

• t = 1 when τ = 0.

• Transmittance is unitless. It is the fraction of intensity that passes

directly from s

1

to s

2

.

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 14

Linking Multiple Paths

• Then the optical path for the whole system equals the sum of the individual

optical paths

• τ(s

1

,s

N

) = τ(s

1

,s

2

) + τ(s

2

,s

3

) + τ(s

3

,s

4

) + …+ τ(s

N−1

,s

N

).

• The transmittance for the whole system equals the product of the individual

transmittances.

• t(s

1

,s

N

) = t(s

1

,s

2

) t(s

2

,s

3

) t(s

3

,s

4

) × … × t(s

N−1

,s

N

).

• Consider EMR moving along series of paths: s

1

to s

2

, s

2

to s

3

, s

3

to s

4

,

…, s

N−1

to s

N

.

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 15

Example for Transmittance

• Short wave reaching the cloud top = t

sw1

F

• Short wave reaching the cloud base = t

swc

t

sw1

F

• Short wave reaching the Surface = t

sw2

t

swc

t

sw1

F

Top of

atmosphere

Cloud layer

Surface

F=500 Wm

-2

Atmospheric layer 1

Atmospheric layer 2

t

sw1

= 0.5 a

sw1

= 0.5 r

sw1

= 0

t

sw2

= 0.8 a

sw2

= 0.2 r

sw2

= 0

t

swc

= 0.5 a

swc

= 0.5 r

swc

= 0

250 Wm

-2

125 Wm

-2

100 Wm

-2

250 Wm

-2

125 Wm

-2

25 Wm

-2

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 16

Example for Short Wave Energy

• We are assuming specular reflection, which minimizes influences of reflected EMR.

• Reflections cause a large increase in SW absorption in the upper layer.

• Short wave albedo of the system is (37.5 + 4.15) / 500 ≈ 8.33%

Top of

atmosphere

Cloud layer

Surface

F=500Wm

-2

Atmospheric layer 1

Atmospheric layer 2

t

sw1

= 0.5 a

sw1

= 0.5 r

sw1

= 0

t

sw2

= 0.8 a

sw2

= 0.2 r

sw2

= 0

t

swc

= 0.5 a

swc

= 0.5 r

swc

=

0.3

250Wm

-2

250Wm

-2

87.5Wm

-2

87.5 Wm

-2

69.8 Wm

-2

17.7Wm

-2

75Wm

-2

37.5Wm

-2

37.5Wm

-2

t

sw2

= 0 a

sw2

= 1 A

sw2

= 0.3

48.8Wm

-2

1.2Wm

-2

2.8Wm

-2

4Wm

-2

5Wm

-2

1Wm

-2

8.3Wm

-2

8.3Wm

-2

4.15Wm

-2

4.15 Wm

-2

21Wm

-2

16.6Wm

-2

4.4Wm

-2

•

Total 51.6Wm

-2

Net 438.35Wm

-2

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 17

Example for Long Wave Transmittance

• Why is the temperature of the atmosphere unimportant in this example?

• What does this situation suggest about thermal equilibrium in the

atmosphere, and energy balance at the top of the atmosphere?

Top of

atmosphere

Cloud layer

Surface

Atmospheric layer 1

Atmospheric layer 2

t

lw1

= 1 a

lw1

= 0 r

lw1

= 0

t

lw2

= 1 a

lw2

= 0 r

lw2

= 0

t

lwc

= 0.0 a

lwc

= 0.9 r

lwc

= 0.1

291.65Wm

-2

95.8Wm

-2

23.1Wm

-2

t

lw2

= 0 a

1w2

= 1 A

1w2

= 0.05

145.83Wm

-2

145.82Wm

-2

14.58Wm

-2

131.24Wm

-2

65.62Wm

-2

65.62Wm

-2

37.40Wm

-2

3.28Wm

-2

1.33Wm

-2

1.33Wm

-2

1.26Wm

-2

2.85Wm

-2

0.3Wm

-2

2.66Wm

-2

0.2Wm

-2

Net -227.36Wm

-2

Total 41.51Wm

-2

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 18

Example for Long Wave Transmittance

• Note: other energy absorbed in the cloud layer is included in the other

slides.

Top of

atmosphere

Cloud layer

Surface

Atmospheric layer 1

Atmospheric layer 2

t

lw1

= 1 a

lw1

= 0 r

lw1

= 0

t

lw2

= 1 a

lw2

= 0 r

lw2

= 0

t

lwc

= 0.0 a

lwc

= 0.9 r

lwc

= 0.1

291.65Wm

-2

95.8Wm

-2

23.1Wm

-2

t

lw2

= 0 a

1w2

= 1 A

1w2

= 0.05

Total 46.76Wm

-2

47.9Wm

-2

47.9Wm

-2

45.5Wm

-2

2.4Wm

-2

0.24Wm

-2

2.16Wm

-2

1.08Wm

-2

1.08Wm

-2

1.03Wm

-2

0.23Wm

-2

Net -48.98Wm

-2

0.24Wm

-2

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 19

Example for Long Wave Transmittance

Top of

atmosphere

Cloud layer

Surface

Atmospheric layer 1

Atmospheric layer 2

t

lw1

= 1 a

lw1

= 0 r

lw1

= 0

t

lw2

= 1 a

lw2

= 0 r

lw2

= 0

t

lwc

= 0 a

lwc

= 0.9 r

lwc

= 0.1

291.65Wm

-2

95.8Wm

-2

23.1Wm

-2

t

lw2

= 0 a

1w2

= 1 A

1w2

= 0.05

11.55Wm

-2

11.55Wm

-2

1.15Wm

-2

10.4Wm

-2

5.2Wm

-2

5.2Wm

-2

0.90Wm

-2

17.0Wm

-2

0.81Wm

-2

0.09Wm

-2

0.41Wm

-2

0.40Wm

-2

0.475Wm

-2

Net -6.75Wm

-2

Total 17.475Wm

-2

0.09Wm

-2

1.15Wm

-2

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 20

Example for Transmittance:

Surface Temperature

• (1−0.53)εσT

4

= 51.6 + 41.45 + 46.76 + 17.475 Wm

-2

= 157.285Wm

-2

• T = 280K

Top of

atmosphere

Cloud layer

Surface

Atmospheric layer 1

Atmospheric layer 2

t

lw1

= 1 a

lw1

= 0 r

lw1

= 0

t

lw2

= 1 a

lw2

= 0 r

lw2

= 0

t

lwc

= 0.1 a

lwc

= 0.9 r

lwc

= 0.1

t

lw2

= 0 a

lw2

= 1 A

lw2

= 0.95

εσT

4

Wm

-2

51.6 Wm

-2

17.475Wm

-2

46.76 38.43

0.09 εσT

4

Wm

-2

0.81εσT

4

Wm

-2

0.1εσT

4

0.405εσT

4

Wm

-2

0.405εσT

4

0.53εσT

4

Wm

-2

0.02εσT

4

Wm

-2

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 21

Approximations & Simplifications

• Then a = 1 − t ≈ 1 − [1 − τ(s

1

,s

2

)]

• a ≈ τ(s

1

,s

2

)

• a ≈ β

e

(s

2

− s

1

)

• Consider the propagation of EMR through a medium that is almost

transparent.

• The optical path, τ(s

1

,s

2

) << 1

• The transmittance t(s

1

,s

2

) = e

−τ

• Use the approximation that for small x, e

−x

= 1 − x

• Then t(s

1

,s

2

) = e

−τ

≈ 1 − τ(s

1

,s

2

)

• If the extinction coefficient is approximately constant

throughout the medium, then τ(s

1

,s

2

) ≈ β

e

(s

2

− s

1

)

• In which case, t(s

1

,s

2

) = e

−τ

≈ 1 − τ(s

1

,s

2

) ≈ 1 − β

e

(s

2

− s

1

)

• Now consider absorptance (a) for the above case, with the further

assumptions that extinction is purely due to absorption.

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 22

Mass Extinction Coefficient I

• The mass extinction coefficient (k

e

) describes the fraction of EMR that is

absorbed per unit mass ‘encountered’.

• Consider the example of a Petrie dish half filled with water, to which five

drops of India ink has been added.

• The volume extinction coefficient for the solution can be calculated.

• Consider the full Petrie dish, with the same five drops of India ink.

• The absorptance is the same as the previous case, but the volume

extinction coefficient is half the value of the previous case.

• Similarly, if only the ink is in the Petrie dish, the absorptance is unchanged,

but the volume extinction coefficient is very large.

• So far in this section, we have described the volume extinction

coefficient β

e

as a measure of how strongly a medium absorbs EMR

over a unit distance. This is not always the best approach.

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 23

Mass Extinction Coefficient II

• The mass per unit area is equal to the density times the thickness.

• The volume extinction coefficient (β

e

) can be related to the mass extinction

coefficient (k

e

) through

• β

e

= ρ k

e

• Recall that the units for β

e

are m

-1

, therefore the units

of k

e

are m

2

kg

-1

.

• These units could also be interpreted as a cross-section per unit mass.

• The transmittance (for a homogeneous medium) is

• t(s

1

,s

2

) = exp(−ρ k

e

∆s)

• And the optical path becomes τ = ρ k

e

(s

2

− s

1

).

• The concept of the mass extinction coefficient is extremely useful because

the value of k

e

is independent of density.

• In the previous examples, the one constant was the mass of ink.

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 24

Extinction Cross-Section

• The volume extinction coefficient (β

e

) can be related to the extinction

cross-section (σ

e

) through

• β

e

= σ

e

N

• Recall that the units for β

e

are m

-1

, therefore the units

of σ

e

are m

2

(per particle).

• These units could also be interpreted as a cross-section per particle.

• The extinction cross-section (σ

e

) can be related to the mass extinction

coefficient (k

e

) through σ

e

= k

e

m, where m is the mass per particle.

• Another frequently used variable describing extinction is the extinction

cross-section (σ

e

) for a single particle

• Used when particle concentrations are known.

• Particle in this context is rather general, applying to rain drops,

pollutants, molecules, or any absorbing material.

• Concentration (N) means number density (e.g., number of ozone

molecules per unit volume)

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 25

Extinction Cross Section Example

• For the visible and infrared portions of the spectrum, the extinction cross

section is usually proportional to the size of the droplet.

• The extinction efficiency (Q

e

) for a droplet can be defined as ratio of the

extinction cross section (σ

e

) to the cross-sectional area (A) of the droplet:

• Cloud droplets are sufficiently small that they can be described as

spherical: A = π r

2

.

• Q

e

= σ

e

/ A

• If someone had to guess the range of Q

e

, a range of zero to one would seem

like a reasonable guess.

• For the visible spectrum, Q

e

for cloud droplets averages around 2, and can

be much larger for a small part of the spectrum.

• One very good example of an application is cloud droplets.

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 26

Generalization To

Scattering and Absorption

• The previously discussed extinction coefficients can be written for

separate absorption and scattering coefficients.

• β

a

= ρ k

a

= N σ

a

and β

s

= ρ k

s

= N σ

s

• Absorption efficiency and Scattering Efficiency can be written as

• Q

a

= σ

a

/ A and Q

s

= σ

s

/ A

s s s s

s a e e e

k

k

, , o

.

, , , o

= = = =

÷

• The single scatter albedo can also be written in terms of any of these

scattering coefficients.

•

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 27

Arbitrary Mixtures of Components

• A realistic atmosphere is a mix of gasses, particles, ice, and water

droplets.

, , e mix e i

i

, , =

_

• Determining the combined influence of these constituents is actually

straight forward.

• The volume extinction coefficient for a mixture is equal to the sum

of volume extinction coefficients for each constituent.

• where β

e,i

is β

e

for the i

th

constituent.

• Each of these atmospheric constituents has different concentrations

and different extinction characteristics.

, , , ,

, , , ,

, , , ,

e mix e i i e i i e i

i i i

a mix a i i a i i a i

i i i

s mix s i i s i i s i

i i i

k N

k N

k N

, , j o

, , j o

, , j o

= = =

= = =

= = =

_ _ _

_ _ _

_ _ _

• Similarly,

•

•

•

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 28

Example

• β

s,w

= β

e,w

= ρ

w

k

e,w

= 0.1gm

-3

150m

2

/kg = 0.015m

-1

• β

e

= β

e,w

+ β

e,a

= 0.015m

-1

+ 0.01m

-1

= 0.025m

-1

• β

a

= β

a,w

+ β

a,a

= 0 + 0.01m

-1

= 0.01m

-1

• β

s

= β

s,w

+ β

s,a

= 0.015m

-1

+ 0 = 0.015m

-1

• ω = β

s

/ β

e

= 0.015m

-1

/ 0.025m

-1

= 0.6

• Consider a plane parallel cloud, with a liquid water density (ρ

w

) of

0.1gm

-3

, and a thickness (∆z) of 100m.

• At the wavelength of interest, the mass absorption coefficient (k

e,w

)

(for water) equals 150m

2

/kg, and a single scattering albedo of 1.0.

• The air in the cloud also absorbs, with

• Volume absorption coefficient (β

e,a

) equals 10km

-1

, and

• A single scattering albedo of 0.0.

• (1) Compute β

e

, β

a

, β

s

, and single scattering albedo for the mixture.

• ω = 1, so β

a,w

= 0, and

• First consider β for the water.

• Now calculate the the volume extinction coefficients

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 29

Plane Parallel Assumption

- The Setup -

• Our atmosphere is highly stratified, particularly in the stratosphere.

• The troposphere is relatively well mixed chemically, but not so

well mixed for radiative applications.

• Vertical gradients of pressure (1mb/8m) and temperature ~7°C/km) are

usually much larger than horizontal gradients.

• It follows from the ideal gas law (meteorology version) that the

density must be highly stratified, and

• From the chemistry version of the ideal gas law, it follows that the

concentration of gasses is highly stratified.

• The stratification of β

e

can be seen through the link between β

e

and

either k

e

or σ

e

.

• Recall that we can use Beer’s law to describe the transmission from a

starting point (s

1

) to an end point (s

2

), without assuming anything

about how the extinction coefficient (β

e

) varies.

• However, making no assumptions about the variability of β

e

is

rather hard to work with (even for a computer).

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Atmos. Transmission 30

Plane Parallel Assumption

- The Concept -

• Exceptions include cumuloform clouds, the horizontal boundaries of

stratiform clouds, fronts, tropical cyclones, many mid-latitude storms, some

land/sea boundaries.

• What does the above suggest about the use of a plane parallel assumption

in NWP applications (e.g., a reanalysis with 100km resolution)?

• What does it suggest about the interaction between clouds and radiation,

which many people believe is fundamental in modeling climate change?

• We also assume that we can ignore the curvature of the earth.

• The previous comments indicate that radiative absorption (and hence

emission) characteristics tend to change far more rapidly in the vertical

than they do in the horizontal.

• Suggesting that if the horizontal scale is sufficiently small, the

horizontal variability can be ignored.

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Atmos. Transmission 31

Plane Parallel Assumption

- The Math -

• Note that the optical thickness does not depend on the angle at which

the EMR approaches the atmosphere; however, the transmittance does

depend on this angle.

• Mathematically, the plane parallel assumption can be written as

• β

e

(x,y,z) = β

e

(z) , Τ(x,y,z) = Τ(z) , P(x,y,z) = P(z) , ….

• The path distance s can be written as

• s = ∆z / µ ,

• where µ = |cos(θ)|, and

• θ is the angle of propagation relative to zenith (i.e., relative to up).

( ) ( )

2

1

1 2

,

z

e

z

z z z dz t , =

]

• The optical thickness between two layers becomes

( ) ( )

1 2 1 2

1

, exp , t z z z z t

j

l

l

= ÷

l

l

• The transmittance becomes

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 32

Optical Depth as a Vertical Coordinate

• In summary,

• The optical depth is a finite positive number at the surface, and

• The optical depth decreases in height until it reaches zero at the

effective top of the atmosphere.

• This situation make it easy to use optical depth as a vertical coordinate.

• The transmittance through a layer from z

1

to z

2

becomes

• t(z

1

,z

2

) = exp[-τ(z

1

,z

2

)] = t(z

1

) / t(z

2

)

( )

( ) ( )

,

top

Lim

z top e

z

z z z z dz t t ,

·

÷·

´ ´

= =

]

• The top of the layer over which we calculate optical thickness can be

arbitrarily far above the earth’s surface.

• This top can be at infinity, which we will approximate as being far

enough from earth that there is approximately no atmosphere to

cause any absorption.

• We can then determine optical thickness from this layer top to any

height closer to the surface.

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 33

The Atmospheric Transmission Spectrum

• When considering energy balances or remote sensing applications it is

useful to know the following.

• At which wavelengths is the cloud free atmosphere reasonably

transparent?

• At which wavelengths is the cloud free atmosphere strongly absorbing,

and which constituents are responsible for this absorption?

• How do the extinction and scattering properties of clouds vary with

wavelength?

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Atmos. Transmission 34

Absorption by Atmospheric Gasses

• Transmittance is primarily determined/controlled by absorptance.

• Scattering is important for UV and short visible wavelengths, but has

little influence (in the atmosphere) at longer wavelengths.

• Where absorptance is large, the transmittance is small, and vice-versa.

• The following table describe properties of key constituents

Relative to Absorption

Constituent dry air Bands Remark

N

2

78.1% none

O

2

20.9% UV-C, MW near 60

and 180GHz, weak in

visible and IR

H

2

O 0 to 2% Many strong band in IR Highly

and MW Variable

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 35

Atmospheric Constituents

• Many of the less abundant constituents have a disproportionally large

influence.

• While some gasses have near constant concentrations, others are highly

variable in space and time.

Constituent Indryair Absorption Bands Remark

Inert gasses 0.936% none

CO

2

370ppm near 2.3, 4.8, and 15µm increasing

CH

4

1.7ppm near 3.3 and 7.8µm increasing

N

2

O 0.35ppm 4.5, 7.8, and 17µm

CO 0.07ppm 4.7µm (weak)

O

3

~10

-8

UV-B, 9.6µm highly

variable

CFCl

3

, CF

2

Cl

2

~10

-10

IR Industrial

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 36

Absorption by Atmospheric Gasses

• Absorptivity is the

fraction of

electromagnetic

radiation absorbed.

• It is a function of

wavelength

(shown),

• And on the quantity

of the gas in the

atmosphere

Graphic from Meteorology by Danielson, Levin and Abrams

• The quantity (and altitude) of IR absorbing gasses in the atmosphere

influence the atmospheric temperature distribution.

• Changes in the concentrations of the gasses (either natural or man-made)

cause changes in the energy balance.

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 37

Zenith Transmittance

• Note that scattering is not

considered.

• This is a significant

shortcoming for

λ < 0.5µm.

Graphic from A First Course in Atmospheric Radiation by G. W. Petty

• Transmittance is the

fraction of electromagnetic

radiation transmitted.

• It is a function of

wavelength (shown),

• And on the quantity of

the gas in the

atmosphere.

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Atmos. Transmission 38

Example: Zenith Microwave Transmittance

• From this relatively simple constituent model of the atmosphere, windows

and absorption bands are apparent.

• How is the ‘total’ transmittance determined from the components?

Graphic from A First Course in Atmospheric Radiation by G. W. Petty

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Atmos. Transmission 39

Zenith Atmospheric Transmittance Through Clear

Air, Including Consideration of Scattering

• The dashed line indicates the loss of transmittance due to scattering.

• The black line includes absorption and scattering.

• Clearly scattering is the dominant mechanism for the more energetic

shortwave EMR.

Graphic from A First Course in Atmospheric Radiation by G. W. Petty

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Atmos. Transmission 40

Measuring Solar Intensity

From The Ground

• This equation is in the form of a line:

• y = log(I

λ

) & x = sec(θ)

• slope = −τ

λ

& y-int = log(S

λ

)

• So long as the pressure and atmospheric

moisture don’t change much, one day

of observations can be used to estimate

S

λ

and τ

λ

.

• It was possible to determine solar intensity prior to the advent of

satellites.

• How was that done when the atmospheric transmittance was also

not known?

/

I S e

A

t j

A A

÷

=

• Consider a plane parallel atmosphere. Then

• Where µ = cos(θ), and

• θ is the solar zenith angle.

( ) ( ) log / log I S

A A A

t j =÷ ÷ • Taking the log of both sides results in

Graphic from A First Course in Atmospheric Radiation by G. W. Petty

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 41

EMR Interaction With

A Layer Including Particles That Scatter

• EMR is transmitted without scattering.

• The fraction is called the direct transmittance t

dir

.

• EMR is scattered, but eventually makes it through the scattering layer.

• The fraction is called the diffuse transmittance t

diff

.

• EMR is scattered, and does not make it through the layer.

• This fraction can be thought of as reflectivity, r.

• EMR is absorbed, which is described by absorptivity, a.

• If these are all possible outcomes, then the fractions must add to one.

• t

dir

+ t

diff

+ a = 1

• Consider EMR interacting with a layer that scatters.

• In other words, the layer contains objects that cause scattering.

• Without these objects, the layer would be no different from the

surrounding air.

• The possible outcomes can be put into four categories.

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 42

Transmittance Through

an Exponential Atmosphere

• To a good approximation, the density (ρ) of the atmosphere decays

exponentially with height (z).

•

• Where ρ

o

is the density at sea level, and H≈8km is the atmospheric

scale height.

• If an atmospheric constituent is well mixed, then the density of that

constituent (ρ

i

) would be

• Where w

i

is the mixing ratio (the mass of the constituent per unit mass

of the atmosphere)

• Let us assume that the absorption coefficient depends on λ, but it does not

depend on temperature, pressure, etc.

• If the constituent is non-scattering, the k

e

= k

a

.

• Then

( )

/ z H

o

z e j j

÷

=

( )

/ z H

i i o

z w e j j

÷

=

( )

/

i i

z H

e a i o

z k w e , j

÷

=

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 43

What Can We Do

With These Assumptions?

• Determine the relationship between the altitude z, and the optical depth τ as

a vertical coordinate.

• Determine the transmittance from the top of the atmosphere to any level z.

• Determine where the EMR is absorbed, and where the greatest rate of

absorption exists.

• We will explore each of the concepts.

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 44

Optical Depth As A Vertical Coordinate

• Note that the language varies among sub-disciplines of atmospheric

science. If the atmospheric constituent is water vapor, then the mass path is

known as total precipitable water, column integrated water vapor, water

vapor burden and water vapor path.

( ) ( )

e

z

z z dz t ,

·

´ ´

=

]

• Recall that the optical depth is

( )

/ /

i i

z H z H

a i o a i o

z

i i

z k w e dz k w He t j j

·

´ ÷ ÷

´

= =

_ _

]

( )

( )

i

a i o

i

z k w H t j

+

=

_

• Then

• And the total optical depth is

• This result indicates that a unit change in τ corresponds to a

smaller change in z nearer to the surface.

( ) ( )

i i

z

u z z dz j

·

´ ´

=

]

• The mass path is given as

• And is useful because τ(z) = k

a

u(z)

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 45

Transmittance

• Recall that t = exp(−τ (z) / µ).

• Then

• This looks unusual, but it is pretty easy to apply.

( )

/

exp

i

a i o

z H

i

k w H

t z e

j

j

÷

l

l

= ÷

l

l

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 46

Absorption

• The above equation simplifies to W(z) = dt(z) / dz

• This result indicates that the rate of energy absorbed is proportional to

the change in transmittance with height,

• The rate of energy absorbed with height is equal to the change in

transmission with height.

• The absorptivity between two levels is equal to the absorptivity from

the top of the atmosphere to the bottom of the layer (z

1

), minus the the

absorptivity from the top of the atmosphere to the top of the layer (z

2

):

• a(z

1

,z

2

) = a(z

1

,∞) − a(z

2

,∞) = [1 – t(z

1

)] − [1 – t(z

2

)] = t(z

2

) – t(z

1

)

( )

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ,

lim lim lim

a z z z t z t z z t z z t z

W z

z z z

l l l

÷^ ÷ ÷^ ÷^ ÷

l l l

= =÷ =

l l l

^ ^ ^

l l l

∆z→0 ∆z→0

• If we define ∆z = z

2

– z

1

, then we can examine the absorption per unit

altitude, W(z).

•

∆z→0

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Atmos. Transmission 47

More on Absorption

( )

( ) ( )

( )

/ /

1

z z

d z

d

W z e e

d z d z

t j t j

t

j

÷ ÷

= =÷

• Recall that t = exp(−τ (z) / µ), and substitute this equation into our

equation for W.

•

( ) ( )

e

z

z z dz t ,

·

´ ´

=

]

( )

( )

e

d z

z

d z

t

, =÷

• Recall that

• This implies that

( )

( )

( )

( )

( )

( )

/ / z z e e

z z

d

W z e e t z

d z

t j t j

, ,

j j

÷ ÷

= = =

• Therefore

• This result is extremely general. It does not depend on our assumption

about a well mixed atmosphere, or density dependence with height.

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Atmos. Transmission 48

Location of Absorption

• This result is shown as the

dashed line in the figure.

Graphic from A First Course in Atmospheric Radiation by G. W. Petty

( )

( )

/

i

z H

a i o

i

z k w He t j

÷

=

_

( )

( )

/

i

z H

e a i o

i

z k w e , j

÷

=

_

• Now consider our idealized exponential atmosphere. Recall that

• &

( )

( ) ( )

/ /

1

exp

i i

z H z H

o

a i o a i

i i

H

W z k w e k w e

j

j

j j

÷ ÷

l

l

= ÷

l

l

_ _

• Then

( )

/ /

exp

z H z H

W z e e

H

t t

j j

+ +

÷ ÷

l

l

= ÷

l

l

• This can be simplified:

( )

( )

0

0

i

a i

i

z k w H t t j

+

= = =

_

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 49

Altitude of Peak W(z)

• The altitude at which W(z) is a maximum can be found through the typical

approach.

• Take the derivative of W(z) with respect to z.

• dW/dz = 0

• Solving

• Results in

• Which is satisfied when

/ /

d

exp 0

d

z H z H

e e

z H

t t

j j

+ +

÷ ÷

' '

l

1 1

1 1

l

÷ =

! !

l

1 1

1 l1

+ +

/ / /

exp 1 0

z H z H z H

e e e

t t

j j

+ +

÷ ÷ ÷

l l

l l

÷ ÷ =

l l

l l

/

1

z H

e

t

j

+

÷

=

1

t

j

=

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Atmos. Transmission 50

Weighting for Atmospheric Profiling

• Consider the function that we have already discussed for determining the

altitude of absorption.

• This function can be thought of as a weighting function, describing

(relatively speaking) how much absorption occurs at each altitude.

• Similar approaches (using Scharzschilds Equation; see chapter 8 of

Petty’s book) can be used to determine weighting functions for

emission (from the surface and the atmosphere).

• One common remote sensing application is attempts to estimate the

atmospheric temperature or humidity profiles.

• Note that with newer sensors the word profile is no longer used in

product descriptions, suggesting that there are some problems in

these techniques.

• The reasons for the difficulties in retrieving profiles are to be

discussed.

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 51

Example of A Set of

Idealized Weighting Function

• Example (c) shows an even more

realistic case, where the weighting

functions overlap.

• With just 3, 6, or 11 wavelengths,

the problem is grossly

underdetermined.

Graphic from A First Course in Atmospheric Radiation by G. W. Petty

• Example (b) shows a more realistic

case, where the temperature would

correspond to a weighted average

over a range of heights.

• Example (a) shows a very

idealized set of three weighting

functions (delta functions).

• Each of the weighting

functions corresponds to a

different wavelength,

indicating the temperature

(or humidity) at one height.

• Typically there would also

be one wavelength for the

surface.

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 52

Example of AMSU Weights

• AMSU stands for Advanced

Microwave Sounding Unit.

• It has 11 channels (4 to 14)

for atmospheric profiling.

• Several of these channels

apply to the stratosphere.

• The tropospheric profile is

still grossly underdetermined.

• Furthermore, the weights are

far from independent.

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 53

The Weaknesses in Such Profiles 1

• In practice, there are far more changes in T(z) (or dT(z) / dz) than there are

channels.

• Some of the new instruments have hundreds of relevant channels.

• Nevertheless, the problem is still ill posed.

• There are more unknowns than observations

• Ill posed problems are impractical to solve routinely with good accuracy.

• The odds can be improved by using information from the previous

sounding.

• However, this approach fails miserably when there are substantial

differences in the current and previous profiles (e.g., a frontal passage).

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 54

The Weaknesses in Such Profiles 2

• All observations are subject to random and systematic errors.

• The retrieval system should be robust when confronted with realistic

noise.

• Biases, due to errors in physical assumptions, can also modify results.

• The large vertical distribution of individual weighting functions acts to

smooth (blur) the retrieval. A smoothing constraint is also often added to

remove wild oscillations in the solution.

• Despite these problems, satellite derived profiles have been used in many

numerical weather prediction models.

• The large overlap in weighting functions means that the adjacent

weighting functions are not completely independent.

• Statistically speaking, if you have N channels, then you have less

than N independent pieces of information.

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 55

Modern NWP Solutions

to The Weaknesses

• It is possible to compare the solution for the atmospheric profile to other

observations and to models.

• If the differences are two big, then the observed profile can be treated

as too suspect, and ignored.

• The solution can be constrained in a way that minimizes the error.

• Alternatively, the observed radiances can be used to constrain the model.

• Radiative fluxes (or flux densities) can be used to constrain the

temperature and moisture characteristics of the atmosphere.

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Atmos. Physics II

Atmos. Transmission 56

Example of AMSU Temperature Application:

Temperature Anomalies for Hurricane Bonnie

• Temperatures are estimated

based on Advanced

Microwave Sounding Unit

(AMSU) observations.

• First flown on the NOAA

15 satellite launched 13

May 1998

• AMSU is a 20-channel

instrument designed to

make temperature and

moisture soundings

through clouds.

• Geophysical parameters

such as rain rate, column-

integrated water vapor and

column-integrated cloud

liquid water can also be

retrieved.

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