Articles | Volume 6, issue 11
Research article
06 Nov 2013
Research article |  | 06 Nov 2013

The Collection 6 MODIS aerosol products over land and ocean

R. C. Levy, S. Mattoo, L. A. Munchak, L. A. Remer, A. M. Sayer, F. Patadia, and N. C. Hsu

Abstract. The twin Moderate resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensors have been flying on Terra since 2000 and Aqua since 2002, creating an extensive data set of global Earth observations. Here, we introduce the Collection 6 (C6) algorithm to retrieve aerosol optical depth (AOD) and aerosol size parameters from MODIS-observed spectral reflectance. While not a major overhaul from the previous Collection 5 (C5) version, there are enough changes that there are significant impacts to the products and their interpretation. The C6 aerosol data set will be created from three separate retrieval algorithms that operate over different surface types. These are the two "Dark Target" (DT) algorithms for retrieving (1) over ocean (dark in visible and longer wavelengths) and (2) over vegetated/dark-soiled land (dark in the visible), plus the "Deep Blue" (DB) algorithm developed originally for retrieving (3) over desert/arid land (bright in the visible). Here, we focus on DT-ocean and DT-land (#1 and #2). We have updated assumptions for central wavelengths, Rayleigh optical depths and gas (H2O, O3, CO2, etc.) absorption corrections, while relaxing the solar zenith angle limit (up to ≤ 84°) to increase poleward coverage. For DT-land, we have updated the cloud mask to allow heavy smoke retrievals, fine-tuned the assignments for aerosol type as function of season/location, corrected bugs in the Quality Assurance (QA) logic, and added diagnostic parameters such topographic altitude. For DT-ocean, improvements include a revised cloud mask for thin-cirrus detection, inclusion of wind speed dependence on the surface reflectance, updates to logic of QA Confidence flag (QAC) assignment, and additions of important diagnostic information. At the same time, we quantified how "upstream" changes to instrument calibration, land/sea masking and cloud masking will also impact the statistics of global AOD, and affect Terra and Aqua differently. For Aqua, all changes will result in reduced global AOD (by 0.02) over ocean and increased AOD (by 0.02) over land, along with changes in spatial coverage. We compared preliminary data to surface-based sun photometer data, and show that C6 should improve upon C5. C6 will include a merged DT/DB product over semi-arid land surfaces for reduced-gap coverage and better visualization, and new information about clouds in the aerosol field. Responding to the needs of the air quality community, in addition to the standard 10 km product, C6 will include a global (DT-land and DT-ocean) aerosol product at 3 km resolution.