Photopolarimetric retrievals of snow properties
Abstract. Polarimetric observations of snow surfaces, obtained in the 410–2264 nm range with the Research Scanning Polarimeter onboard the NASA ER-2 high-altitude aircraft, are analyzed and presented. These novel measurements are of interest to the remote sensing community because the overwhelming brightness of snow plagues aerosol and cloud retrievals based on airborne and spaceborne total reflection measurements. The spectral signatures of the polarized reflectance of snow are therefore worthwhile investigating in order to provide guidance for the adaptation of algorithms currently employed for the retrieval of aerosol properties over soil and vegetated surfaces. At the same time, the increased information content of polarimetric measurements allows for a meaningful characterization of the snow medium. In our case, the grains are modeled as hexagonal prisms of variable aspect ratios and microscale roughness, yielding retrievals of the grains' scattering asymmetry parameter, shape and size. The results agree with our previous findings based on a more limited data set, with the majority of retrievals leading to moderately rough crystals of extreme aspect ratios, for each scene corresponding to a single value of the asymmetry parameter.