Global Estimates of Ambient Fine Particulate Matter Concentrations from...

van Donkelaar, A., R. Martin, M. Brauer, R. Kahn, R. Levy, C. Verduzco, and P. J. Villeneuve (2010), Global Estimates of Ambient Fine Particulate Matter Concentrations from Satellite-Based Aerosol Optical Depth: Development and Application, Research, 118, 847-855, doi:).

Chronic exposure to airborne fine particulate matter with diameter <  2.5 µm (PM2.5) is associated with adverse human health impacts including morbidity and mortality (e.g., Dockery et al. 1993; McDonnell et al. 2000; Pope et al. 2009). Several national environmental agencies in North America and Europe monitor PM2.5 concentrations at numerous sites throughout their jurisdictions, but even these relatively dense networks have limited geographic coverage. Few long-term meas­ urement sites exist elsewhere in the world, particularly in rapidly developing countries where concentrations and estimated health impacts are greatest (Cohen et al. 2004). Point measurements collected at monitoring sites are not necessarily representative of regional concentration, and regional variability is difficult to assess from point measurements alone. In recent years, application of satellite observation to surface air quality has advanced considerably (Hoff and Christopher 2009; Martin 2008). In fact, global aerosol observations from satellite remote sensing could substantially improve estimates of population exposure to PM2.5.

Since the mid 2000s, the MODIS (Moder­ ate Resolution Imaging Spectro­radiometer) and MISR (Multiangle Imaging Spectroradiometer) instruments onboard the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Terra satellite has provided global observations of aerosol optical depth (AOD), a measure of light extinction by aerosol in the atmospheric column above the earth’s surface. Terra’s sun-synchronous orbit encircles the earth approximately 15 times each day, with each pass crossing the equator at approximately 1030 hours local solar time. Observations of AOD from Terra provide daily insight into the global distribution of column-integrated aerosol. However, the applicability of AOD to surface air quality depends on several factors, including the vertical structure, composition, size distribution, and water content of atmospheric aerosol.

Many studies have investigated the relationship between total-column AOD and surface PM 2.5 measurements. Most have developed simple empirical relationships between these two variables (e.g., Engel-Cox et al. 2004a; Wang and Christopher 2003); more recent investigations often have used local meteorological information to better relate AOD and PM2.5 (e.g., Koelemeijer et al. 2006; Liu et al. 2005) or to filter the AOD (e.g., Gupta et al. 2006). Some studies have employed light detection and ranging (LIDAR) instruments to capture the vertical aerosol distribution at specific locations (e.g., Engel-Cox et al. 2006; Schaap et al. 2008). Schaap et al. (2008) noted that locally derived AOD–PM2.5 relationships cannot be extended easily to other regions because of variation in meteorology and aerosol composition. Unique, local, time-dependent AOD–PM2.5 relationships are necessary to infer global estimates of PM2.5. Ground-based measurements of aerosol vertical profiles and properties have insufficient coverage to estimate global AOD–PM2.5 relationships.

Global chemical transport models (CTMs) resolve atmospheric composition at a resolution of hundreds of kilometers horizontally by hundreds of meters vertically, with a temporal frequency of tens of minutes. Liu et al. (2004) first estimated surfacelevel PM2.5 from MISR observations by using CTM output to represent local AOD–PM2.5 conversion factors over the contiguous United States. van Donkelaar et al. (2006) extended the approach used by Liu et  al. (2004) to estimate PM 2.5 from both MODIS and MISR observations and investigated the factors affecting the agreement between AOD and surface-level PM2.5. Statistical models have also been used to relate AOD to PM2.5. For example, Liu et al. (2007) used MISRretrieved spherical versus nonspherical particle fraction, in addition to model-derived vertical distribution, to separate mineral dust from other aerosol species. More recently, Paciorek Address correspondence to A. van Donkelaar, Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science, Dalhousie University, 6300 Coburg Rd., Halifax, NS, Canada B3H 3J5. Telephone: (902) 494-1820. Fax: (902) 494-5191. E-mail: Aaron.van.Donkelaar@

Supplemental Material is available online

PDF of Publication: 
Download from publisher's website.
Research Program: 
Atmospheric Composition Modeling and Analysis Program (ACMAP)
Terra- MISR