We use a vector (polarized) radiative transfer code to model the angular distribution of the polarized radiation reflected from layers of aerosol embedded in a Rayleigh scattering atmosphere. At blue and UV wavelengths, the sensitivity of passive observations of scattered radiation to aerosol absorbing properties and layer height comes primarily from Rayleigh scattering contributions originating above and below the absorbing aerosol layer.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Airborne Multiangle SpectroPolarimetric Imager (AirMSPI) acquires multiangular observations over a ±67° along-track range in eight (355, 380, 445, 470, 555, 660, 865, 935 nm) radiometric and three (470, 660, and 865 nm) polarimetric bands with resolution up to 10 m from the NASA ER-2 high altitude research aircraft. Using data from recent field campaigns, including the Studies of Emissions and Atmospheric Composition, Clouds and Climate Coupling by Regional Surveys (SEAC4RS) and the Imaging Assessment and Characterization of Tropospheric Particulate Matter (ImPACT-PM), we demonstrate how multi-angle, spectropolarimetric remote sensing imagery can be used to determine the composition of atmospheric dust and smoke aerosols. For validation, the results from the AirMSPI remote sensing observations are compared with in situ aerosol measurements from sensors on the DC-8 (SEAC4RS) and the Navy CIRPAS Twin Otter (ImPACT-PM).