Abstract

We describe the development of a new suite of aerosol models for the retrieval of atmospheric and oceanic optical properties from the SeaWiFS and MODIS sensors, including aerosol optical thickness (τ), angstrom coefficient (α), and water-leaving radiance (Lw). The new aerosol models are derived from Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET) observations and have bimodal lognormal distributions that are narrower than previous models used by the Ocean Biology Processing Group. We analyzed AERONET data over open ocean and coastal regions and found that the seasonal variability in the modal radii, particularly in the coastal region, was related to the relative humidity. These findings were incorporated into the models by making the modal radii, as well as the refractive indices, explicitly dependent on relative humidity. From these findings, we constructed a new suite of aerosol models. We considered eight relative humidity values (30%, 50%, 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, and 95%) and, for each relative humidity value, we constructed ten distributions by varying the fine-mode fraction from zero to 1. In all, 80 distributions (8Rh×10 fine-mode fractions) were created to process the satellite data. We also assumed that the coarse-mode particles were nonabsorbing (sea salt) and that all observed absorptions were entirely due to fine-mode particles. The composition of the fine mode was varied to ensure that the new models exhibited the same spectral dependence of single scattering albedo as observed in the AERONET data. The reprocessing of the SeaWiFS data show that, over deep ocean, the average τ865 values retrieved from the new aerosol models was 0.100±0.004, which was closer to the average AERONET value of 0.086±0.066 for τ870 for the eight open-ocean sites used in this study. The average τ865 value from the old models was 0.131±0.005. The comparison of monthly mean aerosol optical thickness retrieved from the SeaWiFS sensor with AERONET data over Bermuda and Wallops Island show very good agreement with one another. In fact, 81% of the data points over Bermuda and 78% of the data points over Wallops Island fall within an uncertainty of ±0.02 in optical thickness. As a part of the reprocessing effort of the SeaWiFS data, we also revised the vicarious calibration gain factors, which resulted in significant improvement in angstrom coefficient (α) retrievals. The average value of α from the new models over Bermuda is 0.841±0.171, which is in good agreement with the AERONET value of 0.891±0.211. The average value of α retrieved using old models is 0.394±0.087, which is significantly lower than the AERONET value.

© 2010 Optical Society of America

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