New Statistical Model for Variability of Aerosol Optical Thickness: Theory and...

Alexandrov, M. D., I. Geogdzhayev, K. Tsigaridis, A. Marshak, R. Levy, and B. Cairns (2016), New Statistical Model for Variability of Aerosol Optical Thickness: Theory and Application to MODIS Data over Ocean*, J. Atmos. Sci., 73, 821-837, doi:10.1175/JAS-D-15-0130.1.

A novel model for the variability in aerosol optical thickness (AOT) is presented. This model is based on the consideration of AOT fields as realizations of a stochastic process that is the exponent of an underlying Gaussian process with a specific autocorrelation function. In this approach, AOT fields have lognormal PDFs and structure functions with the correct asymptotic behavior at large scales. The latter is an advantage compared with fractal (scale invariant) approaches. The simple analytical form of the structure function in the proposed model facilitates its use for the parameterization of AOT statistics derived from remote sensing data. The new approach is illustrated using a 1-yr-long global MODIS AOT dataset (over ocean) with 10-km resolution. It was used to compute AOT statistics for sample cells forming a grid with 58 spacing. The observed shapes of the structure functions indicated that, in a large number of cases, the AOT variability is split into two regimes that exhibit different patterns of behavior: small-scale stationary processes and trends reflecting variations at larger scales. The small-scale patterns are suggested to be generated by local aerosols within the marine boundary layer, while the large-scale trends are indicative of elevated aerosols transported from remote continental sources. This assumption is evaluated by comparison of the geographical distributions of these patterns derived from MODIS data with those obtained from the GISS GCM. This study shows considerable potential to enhance comparisons between remote sensing datasets and climate models beyond regional mean AOTs.

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Research Program: 
Radiation Science Program (RSP)