Scaling Properties of Aerosol Optical Thickness Retrieved from Ground-Based Measurements

Mikhail D. Alexandrov Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, Columbia University, and NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, New York

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Alexander Marshak NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

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Brian Cairns Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, Columbia University, and NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, New York

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Andrew A. Lacis NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, New York

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Barbara E. Carlson NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, New York

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Abstract

Statistical scale-by-scale analysis, for the first time, has been applied to the aerosol optical thickness (AOT) retrieved from the Multi-Filter Rotating Shadowband Radiometer (MFRSR) network. The MFRSR data were collected in September 2000 from the dense local network operated by the U.S. Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement program, located in Oklahoma and Kansas. These data have 20-s temporal resolution. The instrument sites form an irregular grid with the mean distance between neighboring sites about 80 km. It is found that temporal variability of AOT can be separated into two well-established scale-invariant regimes: 1) microscale (0.5–15 km), where fluctuations are governed by 3D turbulence, and 2) intermediate scale (15–100 km), characterized by a transition toward large-scale 2D turbulence. The spatial scaling of AOT was determined by the comparison of retrievals between different instrument sites (distance range 30–400 km). The authors investigate how simultaneous determination of AOT scaling in space and time can provide means to examine the validity of Taylor's frozen turbulence hypothesis. The temporal evolution of AOT scaling exponents during the month appeared to be well correlated with changes in aerosol vertical distribution, while their spatial variability reflects the concavity/convexity of the site topography. Explanations based on dynamical processes in atmospheric convective boundary layer are suggested.

Corresponding author address: M. Alexandrov, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, 2880 Broadway, New York, NY 10025. Email: malexandrov@giss.nasa.gov

Abstract

Statistical scale-by-scale analysis, for the first time, has been applied to the aerosol optical thickness (AOT) retrieved from the Multi-Filter Rotating Shadowband Radiometer (MFRSR) network. The MFRSR data were collected in September 2000 from the dense local network operated by the U.S. Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement program, located in Oklahoma and Kansas. These data have 20-s temporal resolution. The instrument sites form an irregular grid with the mean distance between neighboring sites about 80 km. It is found that temporal variability of AOT can be separated into two well-established scale-invariant regimes: 1) microscale (0.5–15 km), where fluctuations are governed by 3D turbulence, and 2) intermediate scale (15–100 km), characterized by a transition toward large-scale 2D turbulence. The spatial scaling of AOT was determined by the comparison of retrievals between different instrument sites (distance range 30–400 km). The authors investigate how simultaneous determination of AOT scaling in space and time can provide means to examine the validity of Taylor's frozen turbulence hypothesis. The temporal evolution of AOT scaling exponents during the month appeared to be well correlated with changes in aerosol vertical distribution, while their spatial variability reflects the concavity/convexity of the site topography. Explanations based on dynamical processes in atmospheric convective boundary layer are suggested.

Corresponding author address: M. Alexandrov, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, 2880 Broadway, New York, NY 10025. Email: malexandrov@giss.nasa.gov

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