Articles | Volume 10, issue 3
Research article
09 Mar 2017
Research article |  | 09 Mar 2017

Aerosol optical depth determination in the UV using a four-channel precision filter radiometer

Thomas Carlund, Natalia Kouremeti, Stelios Kazadzis, and Julian Gröbner

Abstract. The determination of aerosol properties, especially the aerosol optical depth (AOD) in the ultraviolet (UV) wavelength region, is of great importance for understanding the climatological variability of UV radiation. However, operational retrievals of AOD at the biologically most harmful wavelengths in the UVB are currently only made at very few places. This paper reports on the UVPFR (UV precision filter radiometer) sunphotometer, a stable and robust instrument that can be used for AOD retrievals at four UV wavelengths. Instrument characteristics and results of Langley calibrations at a high-altitude site were presented. It was shown that due to the relatively wide spectral response functions of the UVPFR, the calibration constants (V0) derived from Langley plot calibrations underestimate the true extraterrestrial signals. Accordingly, correction factors were introduced. In addition, the instrument's spectral response functions also result in an apparent air-mass-dependent decrease in ozone optical depth used in the AOD determinations. An adjusted formula for the calculation of AOD, with a correction term dependent on total column ozone amount and ozone air mass, was therefore introduced. Langley calibrations performed 13–14 months apart resulted in sensitivity changes of ≤ 1.1 %, indicating good instrument stability. Comparison with a high-accuracy standard precision filter radiometer, measuring AOD at 368–862 nm wavelengths, showed consistent results. Also, very good agreement was achieved by comparing the UVPFR with AOD at UVB wavelengths derived with a Brewer spectrophotometer, which was calibrated against the UVPFR at an earlier date. Mainly due to non-instrumental uncertainties connected with ozone optical depth, the total uncertainty of AOD in the UVB is higher than that reported from AOD instruments measuring in UVA and visible ranges. However, the precision can be high among instruments using harmonized algorithms for ozone and Rayleigh optical depth as well as for air mass terms. For 4 months of comparison measurements with the UVPFR and a Brewer, the root mean squared AOD differences were found < 0.01 at all the 306–320 nm Brewer wavelengths.

Short summary
Aerosols play an important role in atmospheric processes. Aerosol optical depth is the most common measure of columnar aerosol load. We present a sunphotometer called UVPFR that is able to measure aerosol optical depth in the ultraviolet range, including the calibration, characterization and validation of the instrument/measurements. The instrument will serve as a reference on the intercalibration of Brewer spectrophotometers that are also able to measure aerosol optical depth in the UV region.