Articles | Volume 5, issue 11
Research article
13 Nov 2012
Research article |  | 13 Nov 2012

Comparison of satellite microwave backscattering (ASCAT) and visible/near-infrared reflectances (PARASOL) for the estimation of aeolian aerodynamic roughness length in arid and semi-arid regions

C. Prigent, C. Jiménez, and J. Catherinot

Abstract. Previous studies examined the possibility to estimate the aeolian aerodynamic roughness length from satellites, either from visible/near-infrared observations or from microwave backscattering measurements. Here we compare the potential of the two approaches and propose to merge the two sources of information to benefit from their complementary aspects, i.e. the high spatial resolution of the visible/near-infrared (6 km for PARASOL that is part of the A-Train) and the independence from atmospheric contamination of the active microwaves (ASCAT on board MetOp with a lower spatial resolution of 25 km). A global map of the aeolian aerodynamic roughness length at 6 km resolution is derived, for arid and semi-arid regions. It shows very good consistency with the existing information on the properties of these surfaces. The dataset is available to the community, for use in atmospheric dust transport models.