An improved method for retrieving nighttime aerosol optical thickness from the VIIRS Day/Night Band
- 1Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND, USA
- 2Marine Meteorology Division, Naval Research Laboratory, Monterey, CA, USA
- 3Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA
- 4Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA
Abstract. Using Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) Day/Night Band (DNB) data, a method, dubbed the "variance method", is developed for retrieving nighttime aerosol optical thickness (τ) values through the examination of the dispersion of radiance values above an artificial light source. Based on the improvement of a previous algorithm, this updated method derives a semi-quantitative indicator of nighttime τ using artificial light sources. Nighttime τ retrievals from the newly developed method are inter-compared with an interpolated value from late afternoon and early morning ground observations from four AErosol RObotic NETwork (AERONET) sites as well as column-integrated τ from one High Spectral Resolution Lidar (HSRL) site at Huntsville, AL, during the NASA Studies of Emissions and Atmospheric Composition, Clouds and Climate Coupling by Regional Surveys (SEAC4RS) campaign, providing full diel coverage. Sensitivity studies are performed to examine the effects of lunar illumination on VIIRS τ retrievals made via the variance method, revealing that lunar contamination may have a smaller impact than previously thought; however, the small sample size of this study limits the conclusiveness thus far. VIIRS τ retrievals yield a coefficient of determination (r2) of 0.60 and a root-mean-squared error (RMSE) of 0.18 when compared against straddling daytime-averaged AERONET τ values. Preliminary results suggest that artificial light sources can be used for estimating regional and global nighttime aerosol distributions in the future.