An analysis is presented of aerosol particle size distributions measured over the North Atlantic and extinction coefficients derived from these data. Two empirical models, an aerosol model and an extinction model, are formulated in terms of simple meteorological parameters (wind speed, relative humidity, air temperature and sea temperature). The choice of these parameters is based on considerations of their effects on the aerosol physics in the marine atmosphere. The performance of the models for predictions of the extinction coefficients at (laser) wavelengths in the visible and IR atmospheric windows is assessed. The results are compared with predictions of the Navy Aerosol Model (NAM).