Star Photometry for the Characterization of Columnar Aerosol Properties
Abstract:Knowledge of columnar aerosol particles at nighttime is essential to completely understand aerosol dynamics and so will largely improve aerosol models. However, the current knowledge columnar nighttime aerosol is poor due to the lack of continuous measurements partly associated with previous technological limitations. Here we present the development, set up, calibration and data quality algorithms for the star photometer at the station of Granada (37.16 N, 3.60 W, 680 m a.s.l.) in Spain. The main advantage of this instrument is that make uses of a CCD camera as detector allowing direct star flux measurements. Filters center at 380, 440, 500, 670, 880 and 1020 nm allows spectral aerosol optical depth (AOD) measurements. Among all the stars, only those that are isolated and possess constant extratarrestial flux are considered.
Two methods for the calibration of the system at high mountain places are presented. The first one consists of doing a Langley calibration of a selected star together with measurements of other stars. From the Langley calibration, we transferred AOD and get the calibration constants for other stars. The second method is the Astronomical Langley Method that consists of dividing the measurements by the optical air mass and so more stable calibration constant are obtained. On the other hand, the atmospheric turbulence is important for very short exposure times (< 1 s) and so uncertainties in AOD are of ±0.02 for λ < 800nm and ±0.01 for λ > 800nm.
The instrument operated continuously for more than four consecutive years and so a large database was created. Cloud screening and data quality algorithms following AERONET inheritance were developed. Basically, moving averages are applied with different temporal-windows combined with a procedure to detect outliers. On the other hand, with quality data guaranteed the analysis of day-to-night columnar aerosol properties is presented. Mean AOD(440 nm) (0.18 ± 0.10 and 0.19 ± 0.11 for daytime and nighttime) and Angstrom exponents (1.0 ± 0.4 and 0.9 ± 0.4 for day and night respectively) are similar, but the study of the spectral dependence of the Angstrom exponent reveals that at nighttime the contributions of the fine mode and the fine mode radius are larger than during daytime, which has been explained by changes in the atmosphere dynamics and by aerosol aging.