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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2020-426
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2020-426
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  26 Oct 2020

26 Oct 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

Characterisation of aerosol size properties from measurements of spectral optical depth: a global validation of the GRASP-AOD code using long-term AERONET data

Benjamin Torres1 and David Fuertes2 Benjamin Torres and David Fuertes
  • 1Univ. Lille, CNRS, UMR 8518 - LOA - Laboratoire d’Optique Atmosphérique, F-59000 Lille, France
  • 2GRASP-SAS, Univ. Lille, Villeneuve d’Ascq, France

Abstract. A validation study is conducted regarding aerosol optical size property retrievals from only measurements of the direct Sun beam (without the aid of diffuse radiation). The study focuses on testing with real data the new GRASP-AOD application which uses only spectral optical depth measurements to retrieve the total column aerosol size distributions, assumed as bimodal log-normal. In addition, a set of secondary integral parameters of aerosol size distribution and optical properties are provided: effective radius, total volume concentration and fine mode fraction of aerosol optical depth. The GRASP-AOD code is applied to almost three million observations acquired during twenty years (1997–2016) at thirty AERONET (Aerosol Robotic Network) sites. These validation sites have been selected based on known availability of an extensive data record, significant aerosol load variability along the year, wide worldwide coverage and divers aerosol types and source regions. The output parameters are compared to those coming from the operational AERONET retrievals. The retrieved fine mode fractions at 500 nm (τf(500)) obtained by GRASP-AOD application are compared to those retrieved by the Spectral Deconvolution Algorithm and by AERONET aerosol retrieval algorithm. The size distribution properties obtained by GRASP-AOD are compared to their equivalent values from the AERONET aerosol retrieval algorithm. The analysis showed the convincing capacity of GRASP-AOD approach to successfully discriminate between fine and coarse mode extinction to robustly retrieve τf(500). The comparisons of 2 million results of τf(500) retrieval by GRASP-AOD and SDA showed high correlation with a root-mean-square-error of 0.015. Also, the analysis showed that the τf(500) values computed by AERONET aerosol retrieval algorithm agree slightly better with GRASP-AOD (RMSE = 0.018, from 148526 comparisons) than with SDA (RMSE = 0.022, from 127203 comparisons). The comparisons of the size distribution retrieval showed the agreement for fine mode median radius between GRASP-AOD and AERONET aerosol retrieval algorithm results with RMSE of 0.032 μm (or 18.7 % in relative terms) for the situations when τ(440) > 0.2 that occurs for more than eighty thousand pairs of the study. For the cases where fine mode is dominant (i.e. α < 1.2), the RMSE is only of 0.023 μm (or 13.9 % in relative terms). Major limitations in the retrieval were found for the retrieval of the coarse mode details. For example, the analysis revealed that GRASP-AOD retrieval is not sensitive to the small oscillations of the coarse mode volume median radius for different aerosol types observed in different locations. Nonetheless GRASP-AOD retrieval provides reasonable agreement with AERONET aerosol retrieval algorithm for overall properties of coarse mode with with RMSE = 0.500 μm (RMSRE = 20 %) when τ(440) > 0.2. The values of effective radius and total volume concentration computed from GRASP-AOD retrieval have been compared to those estimated by AERONET aerosol retrieval algorithm. The RMSE values of the correlations were of 30 % for the effective radius and 25 % for the total volume concentration when τ(440) > 0.2. Finally, the study discusses the importance of employing the assumption of bimodal log-normal size distribution. It also evaluates the potential of using ancillary data, in particular aureole measurements, for improving the characterization of the aerosol coarse mode properties.

Benjamin Torres and David Fuertes

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Benjamin Torres and David Fuertes

Benjamin Torres and David Fuertes

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