National Aeronautics and Space Administration


Date of this Version



Aerosol Science and Technology, 41:202–216, 2007


U.S. Government Work


In this article, aerosol size distributions retrieved from aerosol layer optical thickness spectra, derived from the 14-channel NASA Ames Airborne Tracking Sunphotometer (AATS-14) measurements during the ACE-Asia campaign, are presented. Focusing on distinct aerosol layers (with different particle characteristics) observed in four vertical profiles, we compare the results of two different retrieval methods: constrained linear inversion and a nonlinear least squares method. While the former does not use any assumption about the analytical form of the size distribution, the latter was used to retrieve parameters of a bimodal lognormal size distribution. Furthermore, comparison of the retrieved size distributions with those measured in-situ, aboard the same aircraft on which the sunphotometer was flown, was carried out. Results of the two retrieval methods showed good agreement in the radius ranges from ~0.1 μm to ~1.2–2.0 μm, close to the range of retrievable size distributions from the AATS-14 measurements. In this radius interval, shapes of retrieved and measured size distributions were similar, in accord with close wavelength dependencies of the corresponding optical thicknesses. Additionally, the effect of a size-resolved refractive index on the retrieved size spectra was investigated in selected cases. Retrieval using a constant refractive index pertaining to particle sizes within the range of retrievable size distributions resulted in a size distribution very close to the one retrieved using a size-resolved refractive index.