1Bay Area Environmental Research Institute, Sonoma, CA, USA
2Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA
3NASA Ames Research Center. Moffett Field, CA, USA
4Bay Area Environmental Research Institute, Ventura, CA, USA
5University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, IL, USA
6Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Seattle, Washington, USA
7Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Abstract. We have determined the solar spectral absorption optical depth of atmospheric aerosols for specific case studies during several field programs (three cases have been reported previously; two are new results). We combined airborne measurements of the solar net radiant flux density and the aerosol optical depth with a detailed radiative transfer model for all but one of the cases. The field programs (SAFARI 2000, ACE Asia, PRIDE, TARFOX, INTEX-A) contained aerosols representing the major absorbing aerosol types: pollution, biomass burning, desert dust and mixtures. In all cases the spectral absorption optical depth decreases with wavelength and can be approximated with a power-law wavelength dependence (Absorption Angstrom Exponent or AAE). We compare our results with other recent spectral absorption measurements and attempt to briefly summarize the state of knowledge of aerosol absorption spectra in the atmosphere. We discuss the limitations in using the AAE for calculating the solar absorption. We also discuss the resulting spectral single scattering albedo for these cases.