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Response to ‘‘Toward unified satellite climatology of aerosol properties....

Kahn, R., M. Garay, D. L. Nelson, R. Levy, M. A. Bull, D. Diner, J. V. Martonchik, E. G. Hansen, L. Remer, and D. Tanré (2011), Response to ‘‘Toward unified satellite climatology of aerosol properties. 3. MODIS versus MISR versus AERONET’’, J. Quant. Spectrosc. Radiat. Transfer, 112, 901-909, doi:10.1016/j.jqsrt.2010.11.001.

A recent paper by Mishchenko et al. compares near-coincident MISR, MODIS, and AERONET aerosol optical depth (AOD), and gives a much less favorable impression of the utility of the satellite products than that presented by the instrument teams and other groups. We trace the reasons for the differing pictures to whether known and previously documented limitations of the products are taken into account in the assessments. Specifically, the analysis approaches differ primarily in (1) the treatment of outliers, (2) the application of absolute vs. relative criteria for testing agreement, and (3) the ways in which seasonally varying spatial distributions of coincident retrievals are taken into account. Mishchenko et al. also do not distinguish between observational sampling differences and retrieval algorithm error. We assess the implications of the different analysis approaches, and cite examples demonstrating how the MISR and MODIS aerosol products have been applied successfully to a range of scientific investigations.

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