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Appl Opt. 2008 Jul 20;47(21):3795-802.

Reexamination of depolarization in lidar measurements.

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Georgia Tech Research Institute, Electro-Optical Systems Laboratory, Atlanta, Georgia 30332, USA.


Almost all of the depolarization papers in the lidar literature employ a physically inappropriate notation and they use a definition of the depolarization ratio that is not linear in the quantity of interest. This depolarization lidar legacy is misleading and confusing. In particular, subscripts meaning parallel and perpendicular do not apply to atmospheric parameters, such as the volume backscatter coefficient, because (for linear polarization) the two components of the backscattered light are polarized in the transmitted sense and completely unpolarized; the unpolarized component is not "perpendicular." An analysis of lidar depolarization measurements with a particle scattering matrix recently provided in the literature yields algorithms for retrieving the depolarization parameter from either linear or circular depolarization lidar measurements. The analysis, notation, and definitions recommended here harmonize lidar depolarization analysis with radiative transfer theory, particle scattering theory, and standard polarization measurement techniques.

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