Smoke over haze: Comparative analysis of satellite, surface radiometer, and airborne in situ measurements of aerosol optical properties and radiative forcing over the eastern United States



[1] In July 2002 Canadian forest fires produced a major smoke episode that blanketed the east coast of the United States. Properties of the smoke aerosol were measured in situ from aircraft, complementing operational Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET), and Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) remotely sensed aerosol retrievals. This study compares single scattering albedo and phase function derived from the in situ measurements and AERONET retrievals in order to evaluate their consistency for application to satellite retrievals of optical depth and radiative forcing. These optical properties were combined with MODIS reflectance observations to calculate optical depth. The use of AERONET optical properties yielded optical depths 2–16% lower than those directly measured by AERONET. The use of in situ–derived optical properties resulted in optical depths 22–43% higher than AERONET measurements. These higher optical depths are attributed primarily to the higher absorption measured in situ, which is roughly twice that retrieved by AERONET. The resulting satellite retrieved optical depths were in turn used to calculate integrated radiative forcing at both the surface and top of atmosphere. Comparisons to surface (Surface Radiation Budget Network (SURFRAD) and ISIS) and to satellite (Clouds and Earth Radiant Energy System CERES) broadband radiometer measurements demonstrate that the use of optical properties derived from the aircraft measurements provided a better broadband forcing estimate (21% error) than those derived from AERONET (33% error). Thus AERONET-derived optical properties produced better fits to optical depth measurements, while in situ properties resulted in better fits to forcing measurements. These apparent inconsistencies underline the significant challenges facing the aerosol community in achieving column closure between narrow and broadband measurements and calculations.