A Dark Target research aerosol algorithm for MODIS observations over eastern China: increasing coverage while maintaining accuracy at high aerosol loading
Atmospheric Measurement Techniques
Abstract. Satellite aerosol products such as the Dark Target (DT) produced from the MODerate resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) are useful for monitoring the progress of air pollution. Unfortunately, the DT often fails to retrieve during the heaviest aerosol events as well as the more moderate events in winter. Some of the literature attributes this lack of retrieval to the cloud mask. However, we found this lack of retrieval is mainly traced to thresholds used for masking of inland
... ter and snow. Modifications to these two masks greatly increase 50 % of the retrievals of aerosol optical depth at 0.55 µm (AOD) greater than 1.0. The "extra"-high-AOD retrievals tend to be biased when compared with a ground-based sun photometer (AErosol RObotic NETwork, AERONET). Reducing bias in new retrievals requires two additional steps. One is an update to the assumed aerosol optical properties (aerosol model); the haze in this region is both less absorbing and lower in altitude than what is assumed in the global algorithm. The second is accounting for the scale height of the aerosol, specifically that the heavy-aerosol events in the region are much closer to the surface than what is assumed by the global DT algorithm. The resulting combination of modified masking thresholds, new aerosol model, and lower aerosol layer scale height was applied to 3 months of MODIS observations (January–March 2013) over eastern China. After these two additional steps are implemented, the significant increase in new retrievals introduces no overall bias at a high-AOD regime but does degrade other overall validation statistics. We also find that the research algorithm is able to identify additional pollution events that AERONET instruments may not due to different spatial sampling. Mean AOD retrieved from the research algorithm increases from 0.11 to 0.18 compared to values calculated from the operational DT algorithm during January to March of 2013 over the study area. But near Beijing, where the severe pollution occurs, the new algorithm increases AOD by as much as 3.0 for each 0.5∘ grid box over the previous operational-algorithm values.