Assessment of the MODIS Collections C005 and C004 aerosol optical depth products over the Mediterranean basin
The second generation Collection 005 (C005) MODIS operational algorithm for retrieval of aerosol properties was evaluated and validated for the greater Mediterranean basin (29.5 degrees N-46.5 degrees N and 10.5 degrees W-38.5 degrees E), a region with an atmosphere under siege by air pollution and diminishing water resources that are exacerbated by high aerosol loads and climatic change. The present study aims to quantify the differences between the C005 and the previous (C004) MODIS collections, and re-assess the results of previous studies that have been performed for the region using MODIS C004 aerosol optical depth (AOD) products. Daily data of AOD from EOS-Terra covering the 6-year period 2000-2006 were taken from both C005 and C004 Level-3 datasets, and were inter-compared and validated against ground-based measurements from 29 AERONET stations. The C005 data were found to significantly better agree with the AERONET data than those of C004. The correlation coefficient between MODIS and AERONET was found to increase from 0.66 to 0.76 and the slope of linear regression MODIS/AERONET from 0.79 to 0.85. The MODIS C005 data still overestimate/underestimate the AERONET AOD values smaller/larger than 0.25, but to a much smaller extent than C004 data. The better agreement of C005 with AERONET data arises from the generally lower C005 values, with regional mean AOD values equal to 0.27 and 0.22 for C004 and C005, respectively. This decrease, however, is not uniform over the region and involves a significant decrease over land and a small increase over the ocean for AOD values greater than 0.1 (opposite changes were found under aerosol-clean conditions). Both data sets indicate a decrease in the regional mean AOD over the period 2000-2006, equal to 20% based on C005 and 17% based on C004 datasets, though the intra-annual and inter-annual variation did not change significantly, thus indicating a systematic correction to C004 values.