Articles | Volume 17, issue 3
Research article
09 Feb 2017
Research article |  | 09 Feb 2017

Assessment of the aerosol optical depths measured by satellite-based passive remote sensors in the Alberta oil sands region

Christopher E. Sioris, Chris A. McLinden, Mark W. Shephard, Vitali E. Fioletov, and Ihab Abboud

Abstract. Several satellite aerosol optical depth (AOD) products are assessed in terms of their data quality in the Alberta oil sands region. The instruments consist of MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer), POLDER (Polarization and Directionality of Earth Reflectances), MISR (Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer), and AATSR (Advanced Along-Track Scanning Radiometer). The AOD data products are examined in terms of multiplicative and additive biases determined using local Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET) (AEROCAN) stations. Correlation with ground-based data is used to assess whether the satellite-based AODs capture day-to-day, month-to-month, and spatial variability. The ability of the satellite AOD products to capture interannual variability is assessed at Albian mine and Shell Muskeg River, two neighbouring sites in the northern mining region where a statistically significant positive trend (2002–2015) in PM2.5 mass density exists. An increasing trend of similar amplitude (∼  5 % year−1) is observed in this northern mining region using some of the satellite AOD products.

Short summary
The contribution of the oil sands region to the local aerosol optical depth (AOD) is sought. Satellite data are used since they provide spatial coverage over many years. Satellites measure AOD with high correlation and small biases relative to coincident AERONET AODs. Trends are determined using annual mean AODs, and an increasing trend is found near the Shell mines. Spatially variable and high surface albedo is challenging for some sensors. Measuring polarization appears to be an asset.
Final-revised paper