Horizontal variability of aerosol optical depth observed during the ARCTAS airborne experiment
Abstract. We present statistics on the horizontal variability of aerosol optical depth (AOD) directly measured from the NASA P-3 aircraft. Our measurements during two contrasting phases (in Alaska and Canada) of the ARCTAS mission arguably constrain the variability in most aerosol environments common over the globe. In the Canada phase, which features local emissions, 499 nm AOD has a median relative standard deviation (stdrel, med) of 19 % and 9 % and an autocorrelation (r) of 0.37 and 0.71 over 20 km and 6 km horizontal segments, respectively. In the Alaska phase, which features long-range transport, the variability is considerably lower (stdrel, med = 3 %, r = 0.92 even over 35.2 km). Compared to the magnitude of AOD, its wavelength dependence varies less in the Canada phase, more in the Alaska phase. We translate these findings from straight-line flight tracks into grid boxes and points, to help interpretation and design of satellite remote sensing, suborbital observations and transport modeling.