Linear polarization signatures of atmospheric dust with the SolPol direct-sun polarimeter

Vasiliki Daskalopoulou, Panagiotis I. Raptis, Alexandra Tsekeri, Vassilis Amiridis, Stelios Kazadzis, Zbigniew Ulanowski, Vassilis Charmandaris, Konstantinos Tassis, William Martin

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Dust particles in lofted atmospheric layers may present a preferential orientation, which could be detected from the resulting dichroic extinction of the transmitted sunlight. The first indications were provided relatively recently on atmospheric dust layers using passive polarimetry, when astronomical starlight observations of known polarization were found to exhibit an excess in linear polarization, during desert dust events that reached the observational site. We revisit the previous observational methodology by targeting dichroic extinction of transmitted sunlight through extensive atmospheric dust layers utilizing a direct-sun polarimeter, which is capable to continuously monitor the polarization of elevated aerosol layers. In this study, we present the unique observations from the Solar Polarimeter (SolPol) for different periods within 2 years, when the instrument was installed in the remote monitoring station of PANGEA-the PANhellenic GEophysical observatory of Antikythera-in Greece. SolPol records polarization, providing all four Stokes parameters, at a default wavelength band centred at 550 nm with a detection limit of 10-7. We, overall, report on detected increasing trends of linear polarization, reaching up to 700 parts per million, when the instrument is targeting away from its zenith and direct sunlight propagates through dust concentrations over the observatory. This distinct behaviour is absent on measurements we acquire on days with lack of dust particle concentrations and in general of low aerosol content. Moreover, we investigate the dependence of the degree of linear polarization on the layers' optical depth under various dust loads and solar zenith angles and attempt to interpret these observations as an indication of dust particles being preferentially aligned in the Earth's atmosphere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4529-4550
Number of pages22
JournalAtmospheric Measurement Techniques
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2023


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