Validation and uncertainty estimates for MODIS Collection 6 “Deep Blue” aerosol data


  • This article was corrected on 8 JAN 2014. See the end of the full text for details.

Corresponding author: A. M. Sayer, Climate and Radiation Branch, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA. (


[1] The “Deep Blue” aerosol optical depth (AOD) retrieval algorithm was introduced in Collection 5 of the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) product suite, and complemented the existing “Dark Target” land and ocean algorithms by retrieving AOD over bright arid land surfaces, such as deserts. The forthcoming Collection 6 of MODIS products will include a “second generation” Deep Blue algorithm, expanding coverage to all cloud-free and snow-free land surfaces. The Deep Blue dataset will also provide an estimate of the absolute uncertainty on AOD at 550 nm for each retrieval. This study describes the validation of Deep Blue Collection 6 AOD at 550 nm (τM) from MODIS Aqua against Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET) data from 60 sites to quantify these uncertainties. The highest quality (denoted quality assurance flag value 3) data are shown to have an absolute uncertainty of approximately (0.086+0.56τM)/AMF, where AMF is the geometric air mass factor. For a typical AMF of 2.8, this is approximately 0.03+0.20τM, comparable in quality to other satellite AOD datasets. Regional variability of retrieval performance and comparisons against Collection 5 results are also discussed.