Articles | Volume 18, issue 13
Research article
10 Jul 2018
Research article |  | 10 Jul 2018

The influence of dust optical properties on the colour of simulated MSG-SEVIRI Desert Dust infrared imagery

Jamie R. Banks, Kerstin Schepanski, Bernd Heinold, Anja Hünerbein, and Helen E. Brindley

Abstract. Satellite imagery of atmospheric mineral dust is sensitive to the optical properties of the dust, governed by the mineral refractive indices, particle size, and particle shape. In infrared channels the imagery is also sensitive to the dust layer height and to the surface and atmospheric environment. Simulations of mineral dust in infrared Desert Dust imagery from the Spinning Enhanced Visible and InfraRed Imager (SEVIRI) have been performed, using the COSMO-MUSCAT (COSMO: COnsortium for Small-scale MOdelling; MUSCAT: MUltiScale Chemistry Aerosol Transport Model) dust transport model and the Radiative Transfer for TOVS (RTTOV) program, in order to investigate the sensitivity of the imagery to assumed dust properties. This paper introduces the technique and performs initial validation and comparisons with SEVIRI measurements over North Africa for daytime hours during 6 months covering June and July of 2011–2013. Using T-matrix scattering theory and assuming the dust particles to be spherical or spheroidal, wavelength- and size-dependent dust extinction values are calculated for a number of different dust refractive index databases, along with several values of the particle aspect ratio, denoting the particle shape. The consequences for the infrared extinction values of both the particle shape and the particle orientation are explored: this analysis shows that as the particle asphericity increases, the extinctions increase if the particles are aligned horizontally, and decrease if they are aligned vertically. Randomly oriented spheroidal particles have very similar infrared extinction properties as spherical particles, whereas the horizontally and vertically aligned particles can be considered to be the upper and lower bounds on the extinction values. Inputting these values into COSMO-MUSCAT-RTTOV, it is found that spherical particles do not appear to be sufficient to describe fully the resultant colour of the dust in the infrared imagery. Comparisons of SEVIRI and simulation colours indicate that of the dust types tested, the dust refractive index dataset produced by Volz (1973) shows the most similarity in the colour response to dust in the SEVIRI imagery, although the simulations have a smaller range of colour than do the observations. It is also found that the thermal imagery is most sensitive to intermediately sized particles (radii between 0.9 and 2.6 µm): larger particles are present in too small a concentration in the simulations, as well as with insufficient contrast in extinction between wavelength channels, to have much ability to perturb the resultant colour in the SEVIRI dust imagery.

Short summary
Satellite observations are used to visualize dust storms over the Sahara, and specific infrared channel combinations can highlight dust with distinctive pink colours. Using output from a dust-atmosphere model to simulate satellite imagery, we explore the consequences of particle size, shape, and refractive index for the colour of dust in the imagery. Particles with a radius of ~ 1.5 microns perturb the colour the most and an assumption of spherical dust appears to be insufficient.
Final-revised paper