Moderate Resolution Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MODIS) and Multi-angle Imaging Spectroradiomater (MISR) provide regular aerosol observations with global coverage. It is essential to examine the coherency between space- and ground-measured aerosol parameters in representing aerosol spatial and temporal variability, especially in the climate forcing and model validation context. In this paper, we introduce Maximum Covariance Analysis (MCA), also known as Singular Value Decomposition analysis as an effective way to compare correlated aerosol spatial and temporal patterns between satellite measurements and AERONET data. This technique not only successfully extracts the variability of major aerosol regimes but also allows the simultaneous examination of the aerosol variability both spatially and temporally. More importantly, it well accommodates the sparsely distributed AERONET data, for which other spectral decomposition methods, such as Principal Component Analysis, do not yield satisfactory results. The comparison shows overall good agreement between MODIS/MISR and AERONET AOD variability. The correlations between the first three modes of MCA results for both MODIS/AERONET and MISR/AERONET are above 0.8 for the full data set and above 0.75 for the AOD anomaly data. The correlations between MODIS and MISR modes are also quite high (> 0.9). We also examine the extent of spatial agreement between satellite and AERONET AOD data at the selected stations. Some sites with disagreements in the MCA results, such as Kanpur, also have low spatial coherency. This should be associated partly with high AOD spatial variability and partly with uncertainties in satellite retrievals due to the seasonally varying aerosol types and surface properties.