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Improvement of MODIS aerosol retrievals near clouds

Wen, G., A. Marshak, R. Levy, L. Remer, N. Loeb, T. Várnai, and B. Cahalan (2013), Improvement of MODIS aerosol retrievals near clouds, J. Geophys. Res., 118, 1-14, doi:10.1002/jgrd.50617.

The retrieval of aerosol properties near clouds from reflected sunlight is challenging. Sunlight reflected from clouds can effectively enhance the reflectance in nearby clear regions. Ignoring cloud 3-D radiative effects can lead to large biases in aerosol retrievals, risking an incorrect interpretation of satellite observations on aerosol-cloud interaction. Earlier, we developed a simple model to compute the cloud-induced clear-sky radiance enhancement that is due to radiative interaction between boundary layer clouds and the molecular layer above. This paper focuses on the application and implementation of the correction algorithm. This is the first time that this method is being applied to a full Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) granule. The process of the correction includes converting Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System broadband flux to visible narrowband flux, computing the clear-sky radiance enhancement, and retrieving aerosol properties. We find that the correction leads to smaller values in aerosol optical depth (AOD), Ångström exponent, and the small mode aerosol fraction of the total AOD. It also makes the average aerosol particle size larger near clouds than far away from clouds, which is more realistic than the opposite behavior observed in operational retrievals. We discuss issues in the current correction method as well as our plans to validate the algorithm.

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Radiation Science Program (RSP)