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Cloud Optical Thickness

Other Names

Cloud Optical Depth, τ, tau


It is a measure of attenuation of the light passing through the atmosphere due to the scattering and absorption by cloud dropelts.
The cloud optical depth or optical thickness (τ) is defined as the integrated extinction coefficient over a vertical column of unit cross section. Extinction coefficient is the fractional depletion of radiance per unit path length (also called attenuation especially in reference to radar frequencies).


(1) Radiative Transfer Model (3) Climate Change
(2) Earth Radiation Budget

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Last updated: Oct 13, 2009 01:41 PM ET