Articles | Volume 3, issue 6
Research article
16 Dec 2010
Research article |  | 16 Dec 2010

A sensitivity analysis of Ring effect to aerosol properties and comparison to satellite observations

T. Wagner, S. Beirle, T. Deutschmann, and M. Penning de Vries

Abstract. In this study we explore the sensitivity of satellite observations of the Ring effect (at various wavelengths) to atmospheric aerosol properties. Compared to clouds, aerosols have a rather weak influence on the Ring effect, thus the requirements on the accuracy of the measurements and the radiative transfer simulations are high. In this study, we show that for moderate and high aerosol optical depth (AOD), Ring effect observations are sensitive enough to yield information not only on the AOD, but also on the absorbing properties of aerosols and the aerosol layer height. The latter two quantities are especially important for the determination of the radiative effects of aerosols.

Our investigations are based on observations by the satellite instrument SCIAMACHY on ENVISAT (2004–2008) and on model simulations using the Monte-Carlo radiative transfer model McArtim. In addition to the Ring effect we investigate the impact of aerosols on the absorptions of the oxygen molecule (O2) and dimer (O4) as well as the radiance. In general good consistency between measured and simulated quantities is found. In some cases also systematic differences occurred, which are probably mainly related to the strong polarisation sensitivity of the SCIAMACHY instrument.

Our study indicates that Ring effect observations have important advantages for aerosol retrievals: they can be analysed with high accuracy in various wavelength ranges; and depending on the wavelength range, they show different sensitivities on aerosol properties like single scattering albedo, optical depth or layer height. The results of this study are of particular interest for future aerosol inversion algorithms for satellite instruments with reduced polarisation sensitivity and smaller ground pixels, capable of measuring the Ring effect with higher accuracy.