A new method for measuring the imaginary part of the atmospheric refractive index structure parameter in the urban surface layer
Abstract. The atmospheric refractive index consists of both real and imaginary parts. The intensity of refractive index fluctuations is generally expressed as the refractive index structure parameter, with the real part reflecting the strength of atmospheric turbulence and the imaginary part reflecting absorption in the light path. A large aperture scintillometer (LAS) is often used to measure the structure parameter of the real part of the atmospheric refractive index, from which the sensible and latent heat fluxes can further be obtained, whereas the influence of the imaginary part is ignored or considered noise. In this theoretical analysis study, the relationship between logarithmic light intensity variance and the atmospheric refractive index structure parameter (ARISP), as well as that between the logarithmic light intensity structure function and the ARISP, is derived. Additionally, a simple expression for the imaginary part of the ARISP is obtained which can be conveniently used to determine the imaginary part of the ARISP from LAS measurements. Moreover, these relationships provide a new method for estimating the outer scale of turbulence. Light propagation experiments were performed in the urban surface layer, from which the imaginary part of the ARISP was calculated. The experimental results showed good agreement with the presented theory. The results also suggest that the imaginary part of the ARISP exhibits a different diurnal variation from that of the real part. For the wavelength of light used (0.62 μm), the variation of the imaginary part of the ARISP is related to both the turbulent transport process and the spatial distribution characteristics of aerosols.