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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2019-342
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2019-342
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 19 Sep 2019

Submitted as: research article | 19 Sep 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT).

Issues related to the retrieval of stratospheric aerosol particle size information based on optical measurements

Christian von Savigny and Christoph Hoffmann Christian von Savigny and Christoph Hoffmann
  • Institute of Physics, University of Greifswald, Felix-Hausdorff-Str. 6, 17489 Greifswald, Germany

Abstract. Stratospheric sulfate aerosols play an important role for the physics and chemistry of the atmosphere. Key fundamental properties of the aerosols are their size and particle size distribution. Despite extensive research spanning several decades, the scientific understanding of these properties of stratospheric aerosols is incomplete. The particle sizes reported in different studies cover a wide range – even under background stratospheric conditions – and particle sizes retrieved from satellite solar occultation measurements in the optical spectral range show a tendency to be systematically larger than retrievals based on other optical methods. In this contribution we suggest a potential reason for these systematic differences. Differences between the actual aerosol particle size distribution and the size distribution assumed for aerosol size retrievals may lead to systematic differences in retrieved aerosol size. We demonstrate that these systematic differences may differ significantly for different measurement techniques, which is related to the different sensitivities of these measurement techniques to specific parts of the aerosol particle population. In particular, stratospheric aerosol size retrievals based on solar occultation observations may yield systematically larger particle size estimates compared to, e.g., lidar backscatter measurements. Aerosol concentration – on the other hand – may be systematically smaller in retrievals based on occultation measurements compared to lidar measurements. The results question the overall significance of stratospheric aerosol size retrievals based on optical satellite or lidar measurements, as long as the actual aerosol particle size distribution is not well known.

Christian von Savigny and Christoph Hoffmann
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Christian von Savigny and Christoph Hoffmann
Christian von Savigny and Christoph Hoffmann
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Short summary
Stratospheric sulfate aerosols increase the Earth's planetary albedo and can lead to significant surface cooling, for example in the aftermath of volcanic eruptions. Their particle size distribution – important for physical and chemical effects of these aerosols – is still not fully understood. The present paper proposes an explanation for systematic differences in aerosol particle size retrieved from measurements made in different measurement geometries and reported in earlier studies.
Stratospheric sulfate aerosols increase the Earth's planetary albedo and can lead to significant...
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