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Backscattering Mueller matrix plays new role in cirrus clouds research TEXT SIZE: A A A
Date:2016.09.19 Author:WANG Zhenzhu Clicks:

Cirrus clouds play essential role in the radiative balance of the system Earth-atmosphere. At present, they are one of the main sources of uncertainties appearing in the up-to-date numerical models of the Earth’s circulation and global climate change. Indeed, though cirrus clouds are often optically thin, they cover in average 30% of the Earth surface, the coverage being 60%-70% in tropics.  The microphysical characteristics of cirrus clouds (sizes, shapes, spatial orientation, number density and their vertical profiles) are very important and need to be studied further from experiment and theory.

Recently, Dr. WANG Zhenzhu with his colleagues from the center of atmosphere optics in Anhui Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics (AIOFM) and Prof. Anatoli Borovoi with his group from Institute of Atmospheric Optics (IAO) has made new improvement on theory of lidar exploring of cirrus under international co-operation, They calculated the backscattering Mueller matrix for the first time for the hexagonal ice columns and plates with both zenith and azimuth preferential orientations. The possibility of a vertically pointing polarization lidar measuring the full Mueller matrix for retrieving the orientation distributions of the crystals is considered. It is shown that the element m44 or, equivalently, the circular depolarization ratio distinguishes between the low and high zenith tilts of the crystals. Then, at their low or high zenith tilts, either the element m22 or m34, respectively, should be measured to retrieve the azimuth tilts. The results was pulibshed in OPTICS EXPRESS.


This work is funded by National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) (41305022, 41511130028) and Chinese Academy of Sciences President’s International Fellowship Initiative (PIFI) (No. 2016VEA044). More information will be found in







Figure 1. The element m34 versus the azimuth A and zenith B tilts

(Image by WANG Zhenzhu)



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