Articles | Volume 15, issue 10
Research article
26 May 2015
Research article |  | 26 May 2015

Using the OMI aerosol index and absorption aerosol optical depth to evaluate the NASA MERRA Aerosol Reanalysis

V. Buchard, A. M. da Silva, P. R. Colarco, A. Darmenov, C. A. Randles, R. Govindaraju, O. Torres, J. Campbell, and R. Spurr

Abstract. A radiative transfer interface has been developed to simulate the UV aerosol index (AI) from the NASA Goddard Earth Observing System version 5 (GEOS-5) aerosol assimilated fields. The purpose of this work is to use the AI and aerosol absorption optical depth (AAOD) derived from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) measurements as independent validation for the Modern Era Retrospective analysis for Research and Applications Aerosol Reanalysis (MERRAero). MERRAero is based on a version of the GEOS-5 model that is radiatively coupled to the Goddard Chemistry, Aerosol, Radiation, and Transport (GOCART) aerosol module and includes assimilation of aerosol optical depth (AOD) from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor. Since AI is dependent on aerosol concentration, optical properties and altitude of the aerosol layer, we make use of complementary observations to fully diagnose the model, including AOD from the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR), aerosol retrievals from the AErosol RObotic NETwork (AERONET) and attenuated backscatter coefficients from the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) mission to ascertain potential misplacement of plume height by the model. By sampling dust, biomass burning and pollution events in 2007 we have compared model-produced AI and AAOD with the corresponding OMI products, identifying regions where the model representation of absorbing aerosols was deficient. As a result of this study over the Saharan dust region, we have obtained a new set of dust aerosol optical properties that retains consistency with the MODIS AOD data that were assimilated, while resulting in better agreement with aerosol absorption measurements from OMI. The analysis conducted over the southern African and South American biomass burning regions indicates that revising the spectrally dependent aerosol absorption properties in the near-UV region improves the modeled-observed AI comparisons. Finally, during a period where the Asian region was mainly dominated by anthropogenic aerosols, we have performed a qualitative analysis in which the specification of anthropogenic emissions in GEOS-5 is adjusted to provide insight into discrepancies observed in AI comparisons.

Short summary
MERRAero is an aerosol reanalysis based on the GEOS-5 earth system model that incorporates an online aerosol module and assimilation of AOD from MODIS sensors. This study assesses the quality of MERRAero absorption using independent OMI observations. In addition to comparisons to OMI absorption AOD, we have developed a radiative transfer interface to simulate the UV aerosol index from assimilated aerosol fields at OMI footprint. Also, we fully diagnose the model using MISR, AERONET and CALIPSO.
Final-revised paper