Operational remote sensing of tropospheric aerosol over land from EOS moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer


  • Y. J. Kaufman,

  • D. Tanré,

  • L. A. Remer,

  • E. F. Vermote,

  • A. Chu,

  • B. N. Holben


Daily distribution of the aerosol optical thickness and columnar mass concentration will be derived over the continents, from the EOS moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) using dark land targets. Dark land covers are mainly vegetated areas and dark soils observed in the red and blue channels; therefore the method will be limited to the moist parts of the continents (excluding water and ice cover). After the launch of MODIS the distribution of elevated aerosol concentrations, for example, biomass burning in the tropics or urban industrial aerosol in the midlatitudes, will be continuously monitored. The algorithm takes advantage of the MODIS wide spectral range and high spatial resolution and the strong spectral dependence of the aerosol opacity for most aerosol types that result in low optical thickness in the mid-IR (2.1 and 3.8 μm). The main steps of the algorithm are (1) identification of dark pixels in the mid-IR; (2) estimation of their reflectance at 0.47 and 0.66 μm; and (3) derivation of the optical thickness and mass concentration of the accumulation mode from the detected radiance. To differentiate between dust and aerosol dominated by accumulation mode particles, for example, smoke or sulfates, ratios of the aerosol path radiance at 0.47 and 0.66 μm are used. New dynamic aerosol models for biomass burning aerosol, dust and aerosol from industrial/urban origin, are used to determine the aerosol optical properties used in the algorithm. The error in the retrieved aerosol optical thicknesses, τa is expected to be Δτa = 0.05±0.2τa. Daily values are stored on a resolution of 10×10 pixels (1 km nadir resolution). Weighted and gridded 8-day and monthly composites of the optical thickness, the aerosol mass concentration and spectral radiative forcing are generated for selected scattering angles to increase the accuracy. The daily aerosol information over land and oceans [Tanré et al., this issue], combined with continuous aerosol remote sensing from the ground, will be used to study aerosol climatology, to monitor the sources and sinks of specific aerosol types, and to study the interaction of aerosol with water vapor and clouds and their radiative forcing of climate. The aerosol information will also be used for atmospheric corrections of remotely sensed surface reflectance. In this paper, examples of applications and validations are provided.