• Saharan dust;
  • aerosol;
  • MODIS;
  • PRIDE;
  • Puerto Rico;
  • Sun photometer

[1] The Puerto Rico Dust Experiment (PRIDE) took place in Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico from 26 June to 24 July 2000 to study the radiative and physical properties of African dust aerosol transported into the region. PRIDE had the unique distinction of being the first major field experiment to allow direct comparison of aerosol retrievals from the Moderate Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) with Sun photometer and in situ aerosol measurements. Over the ocean the MODIS algorithm retrieves aerosol optical depth (AOD) as well as information about the aerosols' size distribution. During PRIDE, AODs derived by MODIS in the red wavelengths (0.66 μm) compare closely with Sun photometers. However, MODIS-derived AODs are too large in the blue and green wavelengths (0.47 and 0.55 μm) and too small in the near infrared (0.87 μm). This error in AOD spectral dependence results in retrieved particle size distributions that are small compared to in situ measurements and smaller still when compared to Sun photometer sky radiance inversions. The differences in size distributions may be, in part, associated with MODIS' simplification of dust as spherical particles. Analysis of this PRIDE data set is a first step toward derivation of realistic models for future MODIS retrievals.