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Aerosol source plume physical characteristics from space-based multiangle...

Kahn, R., W.-H. Li, C. M. Moroney, D. Diner, J. V. Martonchik, and E. Fishbein (2007), Aerosol source plume physical characteristics from space-based multiangle imaging, J. Geophys. Res., 112, D11205, doi:10.1029/2006JD007647.

Models that assess aerosol effects on regional air quality and global climate parameterize aerosol sources in terms of amount, type, and injection height. The multiangle imaging spectroradiometer (MISR) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite retrieves total column aerosol optical thickness (AOT), and aerosol type over cloud-free land and water. A stereo-matching algorithm automatically retrieves reflecting-layer altitude wherever clouds or aerosol plumes have discernable spatial contrast, with about 500-m accuracy, at 1.1-km horizontal resolution. Near-source biomass burning smoke, volcanic effluent, and desert dust plumes are observed routinely, providing information about aerosol amount, particle type, and injection height useful for modeling applications. Compared to background aerosols, the plumes sampled have higher AOT, contain particles having expected differences in Angstrom exponent, size, single-scattering albedo, and for volcanic plume and dust cloud cases, particle shape. As basic thermodynamics predicts, thin aerosol plumes lifted only by regional winds or less intense heat sources are confined to the boundary layer. However, when sources have sufficient buoyancy, the representative plumes studied tend to concentrate within discrete, high-elevation layers of local stability; the aerosol is not uniformly distributed up to a peak altitude, as is sometimes assumed in modeling. MISR-derived plume heights, along with meteorological profile data from other sources, make it possible to relate radiant energy flux observed by the moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS), also aboard the Terra spacecraft, to convective heat flux that plays a major role in buoyant plume dynamics. A MISR climatology of plume behavior based on these results is being developed.

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Atmospheric Composition Modeling and Analysis Program (ACMAP)
Radiation Science Program (RSP)