Articles | Volume 7, issue 8
Research article
08 Aug 2014
Research article |  | 08 Aug 2014

Retrieval of aerosol optical depth over land surfaces from AVHRR data

L. L. Mei, Y. Xue, A. A. Kokhanovsky, W. von Hoyningen-Huene, G. de Leeuw, and J. P. Burrows

Abstract. The Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) provides a global, long-term, consistent time series of radiance data in several wavebands which are used for the retrieval of surface spectral reflectance, albedo and surface temperature. Long-term time series of such data products are necessary for studies addressing climate change, sea ice distribution and movement, and ice sheet coastal configuration. AVHRR radiances have also been used to retrieve aerosol properties over ocean and land surfaces. However, the retrieval of aerosol over land is challenging because of the limited information content in the data which renders the inversion problem ill defined. Solving the radiative transfer equations requires additional information to reduce the number of unknowns. In this contribution we utilise an empirical linear relationship between the surface reflectances in the AVHRR channels at wavelengths of 3.75 μm and 2.1 μm, which has been identified in the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data. Following the MODIS dark target approach, this relationship is used to obtain the surface reflectance at 0.64 μm. The comparison of the estimated surface reflectances with MODIS reflectance products (MOD09) shows a strong correlation. Once this was established, the MODIS "dark-target" aerosol retrieval method was adapted to AVHRR data. A simplified look-up table (LUT) method, adopted from the Bremen AErosol Retrieval (BAER) algorithm, was used in the retrieval. The aerosol optical depth (AOD) values retrieved from AVHRR with this method compare favourably with ground-based measurements, with 71.8% of the points located within ±(0.1 + 0.15τ) (τ is the AOD) of the identity line. This method can be easily applied to other satellite instruments which do not have a 2.1 μm channel, such as those currently planned to be used on geostationary satellites.