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Mark A. Miller, Mary Jane Bartholomew, and R. Michael Reynolds


An analytical uncertainty propagation model is used in conjunction with laboratory and field data to quantify the uncertainty in measurements of the direct-normal irradiance, aerosol optical thickness, and Ångström exponent made with a ship-mounted fast-rotating shadow-band radiometer (FRSR). Total uncertainties in FRSR measurements of aerosol optical thickness are found to be 0.02–0.03 at the 95% confidence level (two standard deviations). The “lever-arm” effect, a salient characteristic of the Langely technique in which uncertainties in aerosol optical thickness measurements are reduced as the solar zenith angle increases, is essentially offset by orientation uncertainty. Lack of a lever-arm effect precludes Langley calibration of FRSRs while at sea; they must be calibrated on land. Uncertainties in FRSR measurements of the two-wavelength Ångström exponent are shown to depend strongly on the aerosol optical thickness, with the maximum uncertainty of 0.6 associated with clean, maritime air masses.

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R. Michael Reynolds, Mark A. Miller, and Mary J. Bartholomew


This paper describes the design, calibration, and deployment of a fast-rotating shadowband radiometer (FRSR) that accurately decomposes downward shortwave (solar) irradiance into direct-beam and diffuse components from a moving platform, such as a ship on the ocean. The FRSR has seven channels, one broad-band silicone detector, and six 10-nm-wide channels at 415, 500, 610, 660, 860, and 940 nm. The shadowband technique produces estimates of the direct-beam normal irradiance, the diffuse irradiance (sky component), and the total irradiance. The direct-beam normal irradiances produce time series of aerosol optical thickness. A proven ability to derive meaningful at-sea estimates of aerosol optical depth from an economical, automated, and reliable instrument opens the way to a distributed network of such measurements from volunteer observing ships in all areas of the World Ocean. The processing algorithms are key to the instrument’s ability to derive direct-normal beam irradiance without gimbals and a gyro-stabilized table. At-sea Langley plots were produced during the Aerosols99 cruise of the R/V Ronald H. Brown from Norfolk, Virginia, to Cape Town, South Africa. A Langley calibration of the instrument at the Mauna Loa Observatory confirmed prior calibrations and demonstrated that the calibration was stable over the duration of the cruise. The standard deviation in all plots was of the order 2% for all channels.

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