The new sun-sky-lunar Cimel CE318-T multiband photometer – a comprehensive performance evaluation
Abstract. This paper presents the new photometer CE318-T, able to perform daytime and night-time photometric measurements using the sun and the moon as light source. Therefore, this new device permits a complete cycle of diurnal aerosol and water vapour measurements valuable to enhance atmospheric monitoring to be extracted. In this study we have found significantly higher precision of triplets when comparing the CE318-T master instrument and the Cimel AErosol RObotic NETwork (AERONET) master (CE318-AERONET) triplets as a result of the new CE318-T tracking system. Regarding the instrument calibration, two new methodologies to transfer the calibration from a reference instrument using only daytime measurements (Sun Ratio and Sun-Moon gain factor techniques) are presented and discussed. These methods allow the reduction of the previous complexities inherent to nocturnal calibration. A quantitative estimation of CE318-T AOD uncertainty by means of error propagation theory during daytime revealed AOD uncertainties (uDAOD) for Langley-calibrated instruments similar to the expected values for other reference instruments (0.002–0.009). We have also found uDAOD values similar to the values reported in sun photometry for field instruments ( ∼ 0.015). In the case of the night-time period, the CE318-T-estimated standard combined uncertainty (uNAOD) is dependent not only on the calibration technique but also on illumination conditions and the instrumental noise. These values range from 0.011–0.018 for Lunar Langley-calibrated instruments to 0.012–0.021 for instruments calibrated using the Sun Ratio technique. In the case of moon-calibrated instruments using the Sun-Moon gain factor method and sun-calibrated using the Langley technique, we found uNAOD ranging from 0.016 to 0.017 (up to 0.019 in 440 nm channel), not dependent on any lunar irradiance model.A subsequent performance evaluation including CE318-T and collocated measurements from independent reference instruments has served to assess the CE318-T performance as well as to confirm its estimated uncertainty. Daytime AOD evaluation, performed at Izaña station from March to June 2014, encompassed measurements from a reference CE318-T, a CE318-AERONET master instrument, a Precision Filter Radiometer (PFR) and a Precision Spectroradiometer (PSR) prototype, reporting low AOD discrepancies between the four instruments (up to 0.006). The nocturnal AOD evaluation was performed using CE318-T- and star-photometer-collocated measurements and also by means of a day/night coherence transition test using the CE318-T master instrument and the CE318 daytime data from the CE318-AERONET master instrument. Results showed low discrepancies with the star photometer at 870 and 500 nm channels ( ≤ 0.013) and differences with AERONET daytime data (1 h after and before sunset and sunrise) in agreement with the estimated uNAOD values at all illumination conditions in the case of channels within the visible spectral range, and only for high moon's illumination conditions in the case of near-infrared channels.Precipitable water vapour (PWV) validation showed a good agreement between CE318-T and Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) PWV values for all illumination conditions, within the expected precision for sun photometry.Finally, two case studies have been included to highlight the ability of the new CE318-T to capture the diurnal cycle of aerosols and water vapour as well as short-term atmospheric variations, critical for climate studies.