Articles | Volume 17, issue 22
Research article
21 Nov 2017
Research article |  | 21 Nov 2017

A study of 15-year aerosol optical thickness and direct shortwave aerosol radiative effect trends using MODIS, MISR, CALIOP and CERES

Ricardo Alfaro-Contreras, Jianglong Zhang, Jeffrey S. Reid, and Sundar Christopher

Abstract. By combining Collection 6 Moderate Resolution and Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and Version 22 Multi-angle Imaging Spectroradiometer (MISR) aerosol products with Cloud and Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) flux products, the aerosol optical thickness (AOT, at 0.55 µm) and shortwave (SW) aerosol radiative effect (SWARE) trends are studied over ocean for the near-full Terra (2000–2015) and Aqua (2002–2015) data records. Despite differences in sampling methods, regional SWARE and AOT trends are highly correlated with one another. Over global oceans, weak SWARE (cloud-free SW flux) and AOT trends of 0.5–0.6 W m−2 (−0.5 to −0.6 W m−2) and 0.002 AOT decade−1 are found using Terra data. Near-zero AOT and SWARE trends are also found for using Aqua data, regardless of the angular distribution models (ADMs) used. Regionally, positive AOT and cloud-free SW flux (negative SWARE) trends are found over the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, the Arabian/Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, while statistically significant negative trends are derived over the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern US coast. In addition, the global mean instantaneous SW aerosol direct forcing efficiencies are found to be ∼ −60 W m−2 AOT−1, with corresponding SWARE values of ∼ −7 W m−2 from both Aqua and Terra data, again regardless of CERES ADMs used. Regionally, SW aerosol direct forcing efficiency values of  ∼ −40 W m−2 AOT−1 are found over the southwest coast of Africa where smoke aerosol particles dominate in summer. Larger (in magnitude) SW aerosol direct forcing efficiency values of −50 to −80 W m−2 AOT−1 are found over several other dust- and pollutant-aerosol-dominated regions. Lastly, the AOT and SWARE trends from this study are also intercompared with aerosol trends (such as active-based ones) from several previous studies. Findings suggest that a cohesive understanding of the changing aerosol skies can be achieved through the analysis of observations from both passive- and active-based analyses, as well as from both narrowband and broadband datasets.

Short summary
Using near-full data records of Terra and Aqua MODIS and MISR data, we have evaluated aerosol optical depth trends over global oceans (MODIS and MISR) and land (MISR). Also, for the first time, shortwave aerosol radiative effect (SWARE) trends are estimated over global oceans with the combined use of observations from MODIS and CERES.
Final-revised paper