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David E. Pitts
W. E. McAllum
Michael Heidt
Keith Jeske
J. T. Lee
Dan DeMonbrun
Al Morgan
, and
John Potter


By automatically tracking the sun, a four-channel solar radiometer was used to continuously measure optical depth and atmospheric water vapor. The design of this autotracking solar radiometer is presented to allow construction by the reader. A technique for calculating the precipitable water from the ratio of a water band to a nearby nonabsorbing band is discussed. Studies of the temporal variability of precipitable water and atmospheric optical depth at 0.610, 0.8730 and 1.04 μm are presented. There was good correlation between the optical depth measured using the autotracker and visibility determined from nearby National Weather Service Station data. However, much more temporal structure was evident in the autotracker data than in the visibility data. Cirrus clouds caused large changes in optical depth over short time periods. They appear to be the largest deleterious atmospheric effect over agricultural areas that are remote from urban pollution sources. Cirrus clouds also caused anomalously low estimates of precipitable water.

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