The optical properties of atmospheric aerosol are of importance for a number of applica- tions, including atmospheric visibility and climate change studies, atmospheric remote sensing and particulate matter monitoring from space. These applications are investigated at many research centers worldwide using spaceborne, airborne, shipborne, and ground- based measurements. Both passive and active instruments (e.g. lidars) are used. The pri- mary interest lies in the determination of the vertical aerosol optical thickness, the single scattering albedo, the absorption and extinction coefficients, the phase function and the phase matrix.Vertical distributions of the aerosol properties are also studied using ground- based and spaceborne lidars. Considerable progress in understanding aerosol properties has been made in recent years. However, many problems still remain unsolved. They in- clude, for instance, direct and indirect aerosol forcing, light interaction with nonspherical aerosol particles (e.g., desert dust), and also the retrieval of aerosol optical thickness and optical particle sizing using satellite observations.
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