Articles | Volume 6, issue 3
Research article
05 Mar 2013
Research article |  | 05 Mar 2013

A new method for nocturnal aerosol measurements with a lunar photometer prototype

A. Barreto, E. Cuevas, B. Damiri, C. Guirado, T. Berkoff, A. J. Berjón, Y. Hernández, F. Almansa, and M. Gil

Abstract. This paper presents the preliminary results of nocturnal Aerosol Optical Depth (τa) and Angström Exponent (α) obtained from a new lunar photometer prototype, trade name Cimel CE-318U. Due to the variation of the moon's illumination inherent to the lunar cycle, the typical Langley-plot Method used in solar photometry to calibrate these instruments cannot be applied. In this paper, we propose three different methods to carry out the lunar-photometer calibration. In order to validate the results, we have selected three events which encompass seven nights and ten days under different atmospheric conditions, including several saharan dust intrusions episodes. Method#1 is introduced in this work as a modification of the usual Langley Method. This technique, called Lunar-Langley Method, requires the extraterrestrial irradiances from a lunar irradiance model, providing similar accuracies on τa to those of AERONET (±0.01–0.02). It makes comparable daytime and nighttime measurements. Method#2 consists of transferring the current calibration from a master used by sunphotometers. Its results are again within the limit of accuracy expected for the instrument. Method#3 uses an integrating sphere and the methodology proposed by Li et al. (2008) to determine sky calibration coefficients (Cj) and the instrument's solid angle field-of-view (Ω), respectively. We observe significant τa differences between Method#1 and #3 (up to 0.07), which might be attributed to the errors propagation in Method#3. The good results obtained from the comparison against a second CE-318U prototype, and against daytime data from a Precision Filter Radiometer (PFR), constitute a valuable assessment of CE-318U performance. Results of α and its spectral variation (δ α) show good agreement between daytime and nighttime, being able to identify the aerosol properties associated with each event.