Abstract

We used an instrumental synergy of both ground-based (sunphotometer) and spaceborne [POLDER (polarization and directionality of the Earth’s reflectances) and Meteosat] passive remote-sensing devices to determine the aerosol optical thickness over the suburban area of Thessaloniki, Greece, from April 1996 to June 1997. The POLDER spaceborne instrument measures the degree of polarization of the solar radiance reflected by the Earth–atmosphere system. Aerosol optical thickness (AOT) retrieval needs an accurate estimate of the contribution of the ground surface to the top of atmosphere’s polarized radiance. We tested existing surface reflectance models and fitted their parameters to find the best model for the Thessaloniki area. The model was constrained and validated by use of independent data sets of coincident sunphotometer and POLDER measurements. The comparison indicated that the urban AOT over Thessaloniki was retrieved by the POLDER instrument with an accuracy of ±0.05. From analysis of Meteosat data we found that ∼40% of the days with high AOT (>0.18) are associated with African dust transport events, all observed in the period March–July. Excluding dust events, the 15-month AOT averages 0.12 ± 0.04. During the 15-month period that the study was conducted, we observed aerosol pollution peaks with an AOT of >0.24 on 15 of the 164 days on which measurements were possible.

© 1999 Optical Society of America

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