Articles | Volume 14, issue 20
Research article
31 Oct 2014
Research article |  | 31 Oct 2014

AERONET-based models of smoke-dominated aerosol near source regions and transported over oceans, and implications for satellite retrievals of aerosol optical depth

A. M. Sayer, N. C. Hsu, T. F. Eck, A. Smirnov, and B. N. Holben

Abstract. Smoke aerosols from biomass burning are an important component of the global aerosol system. Analysis of Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET) retrievals of aerosol microphysical/optical parameters at 10 sites reveals variety between biomass burning aerosols in different global source regions, in terms of aerosol particle size and single scatter albedo (SSA). Case studies of smoke observed at coastal/island AERONET sites also mostly lie within the range of variability at the near-source sites. Differences between sites tend to be larger than variability at an individual site, although optical properties for some sites in different regions can be quite similar. Across the sites, typical midvisible SSA ranges from ~ 0.95–0.97 (sites dominated by boreal forest or peat burning, typically with larger fine-mode particle radius and spread) to ~ 0.88–0.9 (sites most influenced by grass, shrub, or crop burning, typically smaller fine-mode particle radius and spread). The tropical forest site Alta Floresta (Brazil) is closer to this second category, although with intermediate SSA ~ 0.92. The strongest absorption is seen in southern African savannah at Mongu (Zambia), with average midvisible SSA ~ 0.85. Sites with stronger absorption also tend to have stronger spectral gradients in SSA, becoming more absorbing at longer wavelengths. Microphysical/optical models are presented in detail so as to facilitate their use in radiative transfer calculations, including extension to UV (ultraviolet) wavelengths, and lidar ratios. One intended application is to serve as candidate optical models for use in satellite aerosol optical depth (AOD) retrieval algorithms. The models presently adopted by these algorithms over ocean often have insufficient absorption (i.e. too high SSA) to represent these biomass burning aerosols. The underestimates in satellite-retrieved AOD in smoke outflow regions, which have important consequences for applications of these satellite data sets, are consistent with the level of underestimated absorption.

Final-revised paper