Evaluating UVA Aerosol Optical Depth using a Smartphone Camera


Corresponding author email: damienpaul@gmail.com (Damien Igoe)


This research evaluates a smartphone complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) image sensor's ability to detect and quantify incident solar UVA radiation and subsequently, aerosol optical depth at 340 and 380 nm. Earlier studies revealed that the consumer grade CMOS sensor has inherent UVA sensitivities, despite attenuating effects of the lens. Narrow bandpass and neutral density filters were used to protect the image sensor and to not allow saturation of the solar images produced. Observations were made on clear days, free from clouds. The results of this research demonstrate that there is a definable response to changing solar irradiance and aerosol optical depth can be measured within 5% and 10% error margins at 380 and 340 nm respectively. The greater relative error occurs at lower wavelengths (340 nm) due to increased atmospheric scattering effects, particularly at higher air masses and due to lower signal to noise ratio in the image sensor. The relative error for solar irradiance was under 1% for observations made at 380 nm. The results indicate that the smartphone image sensor, with additional external narrow bandpass and neutral density filters can be used as a field sensor to evaluate solar UVA irradiance and aerosol optical depth.