Articles | Volume 5, issue 12
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 5, 3055–3067, 2012
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 5, 3055–3067, 2012

Research article 12 Dec 2012

Research article | 12 Dec 2012

Effect of spectrally varying albedo of vegetation surfaces on shortwave radiation fluxes and aerosol direct radiative forcing

L. Zhu1, J. V. Martins1, and H. Yu2,3 L. Zhu et al.
  • 1University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Department of Physics and Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology, 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, MD, 21250, USA
  • 2Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC) University of Maryland, College Park, MD, 20740, USA
  • 3Climate and Radiation Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, 20771, USA

Abstract. This study develops an algorithm for representing detailed spectral features of vegetation albedo based on Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) observations at 7 discrete channels, referred to as the MODIS Enhanced Vegetation Albedo (MEVA) algorithm. The MEVA algorithm empirically fills spectral gaps around the vegetation red edge near 0.7 μm and vegetation water absorption features at 1.48 and 1.92 μm which cannot be adequately captured by the MODIS 7 channels. We then assess the effects of applying MEVA in comparison to four other traditional approaches to calculate solar fluxes and aerosol direct radiative forcing (DRF) at the top of atmosphere (TOA) based on the MODIS discrete reflectance bands. By comparing the DRF results obtained through the MEVA method with the results obtained through the other four traditional approaches, we show that filling the spectral gap of the MODIS measurements around 0.7 μm based on the general spectral behavior of healthy green vegetation leads to significant improvement in the instantaneous aerosol DRF at TOA (up to 3.02 W m−2 difference or 48% fraction of the aerosol DRF, −6.28 W m−2, calculated for high spectral resolution surface reflectance from 0.3 to 2.5 μm for deciduous vegetation surface). The corrections of the spectral gaps in the vegetation spectrum in the near infrared, again missed by the MODIS reflectances, also contributes to improving TOA DRF calculations but to a much lower extent (less than 0.27 W m−2, or about 4% of the instantaneous DRF).

Compared to traditional approaches, MEVA also improves the accuracy of the outgoing solar flux between 0.3 to 2.5 μm at TOA by over 60 W m−2 (for aspen 3 surface) and aerosol DRF by over 10 W m−2 (for dry grass). Specifically, for Amazon vegetation types, MEVA can improve the accuracy of daily averaged aerosol radiative forcing in the spectral range of 0.3 to 2.5 μm at equator at the equinox by 3.7 W m−2. These improvements indicate that MEVA can contribute to regional climate studies over vegetated areas and can help to improve remote sensing-based studies of climate processes and climate change.