Articles | Volume 3, issue 6
19 Nov 2010
 | 19 Nov 2010

Understanding the aerosol information content in multi-spectral reflectance measurements using a synergetic retrieval algorithm

D. Martynenko, T. Holzer-Popp, H. Elbern, and M. Schroedter-Homscheidt

Abstract. An information content analysis for multi-wavelength SYNergetic AErosol Retrieval algorithm SYNAER was performed to quantify the number of independent pieces of information that can be retrieved. In particular, the capability of SYNAER to discern various aerosol types is assessed. This information content depends on the aerosol optical depth, the surface albedo spectrum and the observation geometry. The theoretical analysis is performed for a large number of scenarios with various geometries and surface albedo spectra for ocean, soil and vegetation. When the surface albedo spectrum and its accuracy is known under cloud-free conditions, reflectance measurements used in SYNAER is able to provide for 2–4° of freedom that can be attributed to retrieval parameters: aerosol optical depth, aerosol type and surface albedo.

The focus of this work is placed on an information content analysis with emphasis to the aerosol type classification. This analysis is applied to synthetic reflectance measurements for 40 predefined aerosol mixtures of different basic components, given by sea salt, mineral dust, biomass burning and diesel aerosols, water soluble and water insoluble aerosols. The range of aerosol parameters considered through the 40 mixtures covers the natural variability of tropospheric aerosols. After the information content analysis performed in Holzer-Popp et al. (2008) there was a necessity to compare derived degrees of freedom with retrieved aerosol optical depth for different aerosol types, which is the main focus of this paper.

The principle component analysis was used to determine the correspondence between degrees of freedom for signal in the retrieval and derived aerosol types. The main results of the analysis indicate correspondence between the major groups of the aerosol types, which are: water soluble aerosol, soot, mineral dust and sea salt and degrees of freedom in the algorithm and show the ability of the SYNAER to discern between this aerosol types.

The results of the work will be further used for the development of the promising methodology of the construction error covariance matrices in the assimilation system.