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[1] Comparisons of the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) aerosol optical depths (AOD) with those of the AErosol RObotic NETwork (AERONET) were made at four desert sites, covering a two-year time period from December 2000 to November 2002. The two data sets show good correlation with no obvious systematic biases or trends, demonstrating MISR's ability to retrieve reliable visible and near infrared AOD over surfaces with relatively high reflectance. For MISR AOD obtained at 17.6 km spatial resolution, the estimated uncertainty is about 0.08. When the spatial resolution was degraded to 52.8 km, the estimated AOD uncertainty decreased to about 0.05. Year-long time-series comparisons of MISR and AERONET AOD at the four desert sites showed that MISR can quantitatively capture the temporal nature of strong dust activity in desert regions.