Abstract : Atmospheric aerosols at the Pierre Auger Observatory: characterization and effect on the energy estimation for ultra-high energy cosmic rays.The Pierre Auger Observatory, located in the Province of Mendoza in Argentina, is making good progress in understanding the nature and origin of the ultra-high energy cosmic rays. Using a hybrid detection technique, based on surface detectors and fluorescence telescopes, it provides large statistics, good mass and energy resolution, and solid control of systematic uncertainties.One of the main challenges for the fluorescence detection technique is the understanding of the atmosphere, used as a giant calorimeter. To minimize as much as possible the systematic uncertainties in fluorescence measurements, the Auger Collaboration has developed an extensive atmospheric monitoring program. The purpose of this work is to improve our knowledge of the atmospheric aerosols, and their effect on fluorescence light propagation.Using a modelling program computing air mass displacements, it has been shown that nights with low aerosol concentrations have air masses coming much more directly from the Pacific Ocean. For the first time, the effect of the aerosol size on the light propagation has been estimated. Indeed, according to the Ramsauer approach, large aerosols have the largest effect on the light scattering. Thus, the dependence on the aerosol size has been added to the light scattering parameterizations used by the Auger Collaboration. A systematic overestimation of the energy and of the maximum air shower development Xmax is observed.Finally, a method based on the very inclined laser shots fired by the Auger central laser has been developed to estimate the aerosol size. Large aerosol sizes ever estimated at the Pierre Auger Observatory can now be probed. First preliminary results using laser-shot data collected in the past have identified a population of large aerosols.