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Published April 20, 1998 | Published
Journal Article Open

Submillimeter Fourier-Transform Spectrometer Measurements of Atmospheric Opacity Above Mauna Kea


We present accurately calibrated submillimeter atmospheric transmission spectra obtained with a Fourier-transform spectrometer at the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. These measurements cover the 0.9–0.3-mm wavelength range and are the first in a series aimed at defining the terrestrial long-wave atmospheric transmission curve. The 4.1-km altitude of the Mauna Kea site provides access to extremely low zenith water-vapor columns, permitting atmospheric observations at frequencies well above those possible from sea level. We describe the calibration procedures, present our first well-calibrated transmission spectra, and compare our results with those of a single-layer atmospheric transmission model, AT. With an empirical best-fit continuum opacity term included, this simple single-layer model provides a remarkably good fit to the opacity data for H_2O line profiles described by either van Vleck–Weisskopf or kinetic shapes.

Additional Information

© 1998 Optical Society of America. Received 12 February 1997; revised manuscript received 3 November 1997. This study was supported by National Science Foundation grants AST96-15025 and ATM-9616766. We thank T. G. Phillips for a critical reading of the manuscript and R. R. Gamache and A. Bauer for helpful discussions.

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August 19, 2023
October 19, 2023