Improvement of aerosol optical depth retrieval from MODIS spectral reflectance over the global ocean using new aerosol models archived from AERONET inversion data and tri-axial ellipsoidal dust database
Abstract. New over-ocean aerosol models are developed by integrating the inversion data from the Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET) sun/sky radiometers with a database for the optical properties of tri-axial ellipsoid particles. The new aerosol models allow more accurate retrieval of aerosol optical depth (AOD) from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) in the case of high AOD (AOD > 0.3). The aerosol models are categorized by using the fine-mode fraction (FMF) at 550 nm and the single-scattering albedo (SSA) at 440 nm from the AERONET inversion data to include a variety of aerosol types found around the globe. For each aerosol model, the changes in the aerosol optical properties (AOPs) as functions of AOD are considered to better represent aerosol characteristics. Comparisons of AODs between AERONET and MODIS for the period from 2003 to 2010 show that the use of the new aerosol models enhances the AOD accuracy with a Pearson coefficient of 0.93 and a regression slope of 0.99 compared to 0.92 and 0.85 calculated using the MODIS Collection 5 data. Moreover, the percentage of data within an expected error of ± (0.03 + 0.05 × AOD) is increased from 62% to 64% for overall data and from 39% to 5% for AOD > 0.3. Errors in the retrieved AOD are further characterized with respect to the Ångström exponent (AE), scattering angle (Θ), SSA, and air mass factor (AMF). Due to more realistic AOPs assumptions, the new algorithm generally reduces systematic errors in the retrieved AODs compared with the current operational algorithm. In particular, the underestimation of fine-dominated AOD and the scattering angle dependence of dust-dominated AOD are significantly mitigated as results of the new algorithm's improved treatment of aerosol size distribution and dust particle nonsphericity.