Articles | Volume 9, issue 6
Research article
03 Jun 2016
Research article |  | 03 Jun 2016

Monitoring and tracking the trans-Pacific transport of aerosols using multi-satellite aerosol optical depth composites

Aaron R. Naeger, Pawan Gupta, Bradley T. Zavodsky, and Kevin M. McGrath

Abstract. The primary goal of this study was to generate a near-real time (NRT) aerosol optical depth (AOD) product capable of providing a comprehensive understanding of the aerosol spatial distribution over the Pacific Ocean, in order to better monitor and track the trans-Pacific transport of aerosols. Therefore, we developed a NRT product that takes advantage of observations from both low-earth orbiting and geostationary satellites. In particular, we utilize AOD products from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) satellites. Then, we combine these AOD products with our own retrieval algorithms developed for the NOAA Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES-15) and Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) Multi-functional Transport Satellite (MTSAT-2) to generate a NRT daily AOD composite product. We present examples of the daily AOD composite product for a case study of trans-Pacific transport of Asian pollution and dust aerosols in mid-March 2014. Overall, the new product successfully tracks this aerosol plume during its trans-Pacific transport to the west coast of North America as the frequent geostationary observations lead to a greater coverage of cloud-free AOD retrievals equatorward of about 35° N, while the polar-orbiting satellites provide a greater coverage of AOD poleward of 35° N. However, we note several areas across the domain of interest from Asia to North America where the GOES-15 and MTSAT-2 retrieval algorithms can introduce significant uncertainties into the new product.

Short summary
In this study, we merge aerosol information from multiple satellite sensors on board low-earth orbiting (LEO) and geostationary (GEO) platforms in order to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the spatial distribution of aerosols compared to when only using single sensors as is commonly done. Our results show that merging aerosol information from LEO and GEO platforms can be very useful, which paves the way for applications to the more advanced next-generation of satellites.