23 Aug 2022
23 Aug 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

Sensitivity studies of nighttime TOA radiances from artificial light sources using a 3-D radiative transfer model for nighttime aerosol retrievals

Jianglong Zhang1, Jeffrey S. Reid2, Steven D. Miller3, Miguel Román4, Zhuosen Wang5,6, Robert J. D. Spurr7, and Shawn Jaker1 Jianglong Zhang et al.
  • 1Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND
  • 2Marine Meteorology Division, Naval Research Laboratory, Monterey, CA
  • 3Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA
  • 4Leidos Civil Group, Reston, VA, USA
  • 5Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, US
  • 6Terrestrial Information Systems Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, US
  • 7RT SOLUTIONS Inc., Cambridge MA 02138, USA

Abstract. By accounting for surface-based light source emissions and Top-of-Atmosphere (TOA) downward lunar fluxes, we adapted the Spherical Harmonic Discrete Ordinate Method (SHDOM) 3-dimentional (RTM) radiative transfer model (RTM) to simulate nighttime 3-D TOA radiances as observed from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) Day-Night-Band (DNB) onboard the Suomi-NPP satellite platform. Used previously for daytime 3D applications, new SHDOM enhancements allow for the study of the impacts of various observing conditions and aerosol properties on simulated VIIRS-DNB TOA radiances. Observations over Dakar, Senegal, were investigated for potential applications and opportunities for using observed radiances containing VIIRS-DNB ‘bright pixels’ from artificial light sources to conduct aerosol retrievals. We found that using the standard deviation (STD) of such bright-pixels provided a more stable quantity for nighttime aerosol optical depth (AOD) retrievals than direct retrievals from TOA radiances. Further, both the mean TOA radiance and STD of TOA radiances over artificial sources are significantly impacted by satellite viewing angles. Light domes, the enhanced radiances adjacent to artificial light sources, are strong functions of aerosol properties and especially aerosol vertical distribution, which may be further utilized for retrieving aerosol layer height in future studies. Through inter-comparison with both day- and night-time Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET) data, the feasibility of retrieving nighttime AODs using 3-D RTM SHDOM over artificial light sources was demonstrated. Our study shows strong potential for using artificial light sources for nighttime AOD retrievals, while also highlighting larger uncertainties in quantifying surface light source emissions. This study underscores the need for surface light emission source characterizations as a key boundary condition, which is a complex task that requires enhanced input data and further research. We demonstrate how quality-controlled nighttime light data from the NASA’s Black Marble product suite could serve as a primary input into estimations of surface light source emissions for nighttime aerosol retrievals.

Jianglong Zhang et al.

Status: open (extended)

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Jianglong Zhang et al.

Jianglong Zhang et al.


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Short summary
We adapted the Spherical Harmonic Discrete Ordinate Method 3-dimentional radiative transfer model (3-D RTM) and developed a nighttime 3-D RTM capability for simulating top-of-atmosphere radiances from artificial light sources for aerosol retrievals. Our study suggests that both aerosol optical depth and aerosol plume height can be effectively retrieved using nighttime observations over artificial light sources, through the newly developed radiative transfer modeling capability.