Coherent uncertainty analysis of aerosol measurements from multiple satellite sensors

by M. Petrenko, C. Ichoku
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics ()


Aerosol retrievals from multiple spaceborne sensors, including MODIS (on Terra and Aqua), MISR, OMI, POLDER, CALIOP, and SeaWiFS – altogether, a total of 11 different aerosol products – were comparatively analyzed using data collocated with ground-based aerosol observations from the Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET) stations within the Multi-sensor Aerosol Products Sampling System (MAPSS, and The analysis was performed by comparing quality-screened satellite aerosol optical depth or thickness (AOD or AOT) retrievals during 2006–2010 to available collocated AERONET measurements globally, regionally, and seasonally, and deriving a number of statistical measures of accuracy. We used a robust statistical approach to detect and remove possible outliers in the collocated data that can bias the results of the analysis. Overall, the proportion of outliers in each of the quality-screened AOD products was within 7%. Squared correlation coefficient (R2) values of the satellite AOD retrievals relative to AERONET exceeded 0.8 for many of the analyzed products, while root mean square error (RMSE) values for most of the AOD products were within 0.15 over land and 0.07 over ocean. We have been able to generate global maps showing regions where the different products present advantages over the others, as well as the relative performance of each product over different land cover types. It was observed that while MODIS, MISR, and SeaWiFS provide accurate retrievals over most of the land cover types, multi-angle capabilities make MISR the only sensor to retrieve reliable AOD over barren and snow/ice surfaces. Likewise, active sensing enables CALIOP to retrieve aerosol properties over bright-surface closed shrublands more accurately than the other sensors, while POLDER, which is the only one of the sensors capable of measuring polarized aerosols, outperforms other sensors in certain smoke-dominated regions, including broadleaf evergreens in Brazil and South-East Asia.

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