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Aerosol scattering effects on water vapor retrievals over the Los Angeles Basin

Zeng, Z., Q. Zhang, V. Natraj, J. S. Margolis, R. Shia, S. Newman, D. Fu, T. Pongetti, K. W. Wong, S. P. Sander, P. Wennberg, and Y. L. Yung (2017), Aerosol scattering effects on water vapor retrievals over the Los Angeles Basin, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 17, 2495-2508, doi:10.5194/acp-17-2495-2017.

In this study, we propose a novel approach to describe the scattering effects of atmospheric aerosols in a complex urban environment using water vapor (H2 O) slant column measurements in the near infrared. This approach is demonstrated using measurements from the California Laboratory for Atmospheric Remote Sensing Fourier Transform Spectrometer on the top of Mt. Wilson, California, and a two-stream-exact single scattering (2S-ESS) radiative transfer (RT) model. From the spectral measurements, we retrieve H2 O slant column density (SCD) using 15 different absorption bands between 4000 and 8000 cm−1 . Due to the wavelength dependence of aerosol scattering, large variations in H2 O SCD retrievals are observed as a function of wavelength. Moreover, the variations are found to be correlated with aerosol optical depths (AODs) measured at the AERONET-Caltech station. Simulation results from the RT model reproduce this correlation and show that the aerosol scattering effect is the primary contributor to the variations in the wavelength dependence of the H2 O SCD retrievals. A significant linear correlation is also found between variations in H2 O SCD retrievals from different bands and corresponding AOD data; this correlation is associated with the asymmetry parameter, which is a first-order measure of the aerosol scattering phase function. The evidence from both measurements and simulations suggests that wavelength-dependent aerosol scattering effects can be derived using H2 O retrievals from multiple bands. This understanding of aerosol scattering effects on H2 O retrievals suggests a promising way to quantify the effect of aerosol scattering on greenhouse gas retrievals and could potentially contribute towards reducing biases in greenhouse gas retrievals from space.

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Research Program: 
Atmospheric Composition
Tropospheric Composition Program (TCP)
Upper Atmosphere Research Program (UARP)