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Timothy A. Berkoff, Mikail Sorokin, Tom Stone, Thomas F. Eck, Raymond Hoff, Ellsworth Welton, and Brent Holben

Abstract

A method is described that enables the use of lunar irradiance to obtain nighttime aerosol optical depth (AOD) measurements using a small-aperture photometer. In this approach, the U.S. Geological Survey lunar calibration system was utilized to provide high-precision lunar exoatmospheric spectral irradiance predictions for a ground-based sensor location, and when combined with ground measurement viewing geometry, provided the column optical transmittance for retrievals of AOD. Automated multiwavelength lunar measurements were obtained using an unmodified Cimel-318 sunphotometer sensor to assess existing capabilities and enhancements needed for day/night operation in NASA’s Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET). Results show that even existing photometers can provide the ability for retrievals of aerosol optical depths at night near full moon. With an additional photodetector signal-to-noise improvement of 10–100, routine use over the bright half of the lunar phase and a much wider range of wavelengths and conditions can be achieved. Although the lunar cycle is expected to limit the frequency of observations to 30%–40% compared to solar measurements, nevertheless this is an attractive extension of AERONET capabilities.

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Oleg Dubovik, Brent Holben, Thomas F. Eck, Alexander Smirnov, Yoram J. Kaufman, Michael D. King, Didier Tanré, and Ilya Slutsker

Abstract

Aerosol radiative forcing is a critical, though variable and uncertain, component of the global climate. Yet climate models rely on sparse information of the aerosol optical properties. In situ measurements, though important in many respects, seldom provide measurements of the undisturbed aerosol in the entire atmospheric column. Here, 8 yr of worldwide distributed data from the AERONET network of ground-based radiometers were used to remotely sense the aerosol absorption and other optical properties in several key locations. Established procedures for maintaining and calibrating the global network of radiometers, cloud screening, and inversion techniques allow for a consistent retrieval of the optical properties of aerosol in locations with varying emission sources and conditions. The multiyear, multi-instrument observations show robust differentiation in both the magnitude and spectral dependence of the absorption—a property driving aerosol climate forcing, for desert dust, biomass burning, urban–industrial, and marine aerosols. Moreover, significant variability of the absorption for the same aerosol type appearing due to different meteorological and source characteristics as well as different emission characteristics are observed. It is expected that this aerosol characterization will help refine aerosol optical models and reduce uncertainties in satellite observations of the global aerosol and in modeling aerosol impacts on climate.

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Sundar A. Christopher, Xiang Li, Ronald M. Welch, Jeffrey S. Reid, Peter V. Hobbs, Thomas F. Eck, and Brent Holben

Abstract

Using in situ measurements of aerosol optical properties and ground-based measurements of aerosol optical thickness (τ s) during the Smoke, Clouds and Radiation—Brazil (SCAR-B) experiment, a four-stream broadband radiative transfer model is used to estimate the downward shortwave irradiance (DSWI) and top-of-atmosphere (TOA) shortwave aerosol radiative forcing (SWARF) in cloud-free regions dominated by smoke from biomass burning in Brazil. The calculated DSWI values are compared with broadband pyranometer measurements made at the surface. The results show that, for two days when near-coincident measurements of single-scattering albedo ω 0 and τ s are available, the root-mean-square errors between the measured and calculated DSWI for daytime data are within 30 W m−2. For five days during SCAR-B, however, when assumptions about ω 0 have to be made and also when τ s was significantly higher, the differences can be as large as 100 W m−2. At TOA, the SWARF per unit optical thickness ranges from −20 to −60 W m−2 over four major ecosystems in South America. The results show that τ s and ω 0 are the two most important parameters that affect DSWI calculations. For SWARF values, surface albedos also play an important role. It is shown that ω 0 must be known within 0.05 and τ s at 0.55 μm must be known to within 0.1 to estimate DSWI to within 20 W m−2. The methodology described in this paper could serve as a potential strategy for determining DSWI values in the presence of aerosols. The wavelength dependence of τ s and ω 0 over the entire shortwave spectrum is needed to improve radiative transfer calculations. If global retrievals of DSWI and SWARF from satellite measurements are to be performed in the presence of biomass-burning aerosols on a routine basis, a concerted effort should be made to develop methodologies for estimating ω 0 and τ s from satellite and ground-based measurements.

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Alexander Smirnov, Brent N. Holben, Yoram J. Kaufman, Oleg Dubovik, Thomas F. Eck, Ilya Slutsker, Christophe Pietras, and Rangasayi N. Halthore

Abstract

Systematic characterization of aerosol over the oceans is needed to understand the aerosol effect on climate and on transport of pollutants between continents. Reported are the results of a comprehensive optical and physical characterization of ambient aerosol in five key island locations of the Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET) of sun and sky radiometers, spanning over 2–5 yr. The results are compared with aerosol optical depths and size distributions reported in the literature over the last 30 yr. Aerosol found over the tropical Pacific Ocean (at three sites between 20°S and 20°N) still resembles mostly clean background conditions dominated by maritime aerosol. The optical thickness is remarkably stable with mean value of τ a(500 nm) = 0.07, mode value at τ am = 0.06, and standard deviation of 0.02–0.05. The average Ångström exponent range, from 0.3 to 0.7, characterizes the wavelength dependence of the optical thickness. Over the tropical to subtropical Atlantic (two stations at 7°S and 32°N) the optical thickness is significantly higher: τ a(500 nm) = 0.14 and τ am = 0.10 due to the frequent presence of dust, smoke, and urban–industrial aerosol. For both oceans the atmospheric column aerosol is characterized by a bimodal lognormal size distribution with a fine mode at effective radius R eff = 0.11 ± 0.01 μm and coarse mode at R eff = 2.1 ± 0.3 μm. A review of the published 150 historical ship measurements from the last three decades shows that τ am was around 0.07 to 0.12 in general agreement with the present finding. The information should be useful as a test bed for aerosol global models and aerosol representation in global climate models. With global human population expansion and industrialization, these measurements can serve in the twenty-first century as a basis to assess decadal changes in the aerosol concentration, properties, and radiative forcing of climate.

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Alexander Smirnov, Brent N. Holben, Oleg Dubovik, Norm T. O'Neill, Thomas F. Eck, Douglas L. Westphal, Andreas K. Goroch, Christophe Pietras, and Ilya Slutsker

Abstract

Aerosol optical depth measurements over Bahrain acquired through the ground-based Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET) are analyzed. Optical depths obtained from ground-based sun/sky radiometers showed a pronounced temporal trend, with a maximum dust aerosol loading observed during the March–July period. The aerosol optical depth probability distribution is rather narrow with a modal value of about 0.25. The Ångström parameter frequency distribution has two peaks. One peak around 0.7 characterizes a situation when dust aerosol is more dominant, the second peak around 1.2 corresponds to relatively dust-free cases. The correlation between aerosol optical depth and water vapor content in the total atmospheric column is strong (correlation coefficient of 0.82) when dust aerosol is almost absent (Ångström parameter is greater than 0.7), suggesting possible hygroscopic growth of fine mode particles or source region correlation, and much weaker (correlation coefficient of 0.45) in the presence of dust (Ångström parameter is less than 0.7). Diurnal variations of the aerosol optical depth and precipitable water were insignificant. Ångström parameter diurnal variability (∼20%–25%) is evident during the April–May period, when dust dominated the atmospheric optical conditions. Variations in the aerosol volume size distributions retrieved from spectral sun and sky radiance data are mainly associated with the changes in the concentration of the coarse aerosol fraction (variation coefficient of 61%). Geometric mean radii for the fine and coarse aerosol fractions are 0.14 μm (std dev = 0.02) and 2.57 μm (std dev = 0.27), respectively. The geometric standard deviation of each fraction is 0.41 and 0.73, respectively. In dust-free conditions the single scattering albedo (SSA) decreases with wavelength, while in the presence of dust the SSA either stays neutral or increases slightly with wavelength. The changes in the Ångström parameter derived from a ground-based nephelometer and a collocated sun photometer during the initial checkout period were quite similar.

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Larry L. Stowe, H. Y. Michael Yeh, Thomas F. Eck, Charlie G. Wellemeyer, H. Lee Kyle, and The Nimbus-7 Cloud Data Processing Team

Abstract

Regional and seasonal variations in global cloud cover observed by the Nimbus-7 satellite over 1 year are analyzed by examining the 4 midseason months—April, July and October 1979 and January 1980. The Nimbus-7 data set is generated from the Temperature Humidity Infrared Radiometer (THIR) 11.5 micron radiances together with Total Ozone Mapping Spectometer (TOMS)-derived UV reflectivities, climatological atmospheric temperature lapse rates, and concurrent surface temperature and snow/ice information from the Air Force three-dimensional-nephanalysis (3DN) archive. The analysis presented here includes total cloud amount, cloud amounts at high, middle and low altitudes, cirrus and deep convective clouds and cloud and cloud-sky 11.5 micron-derived radiances. Also, noon versus midnight cloud amounts are examined and the Nimbus-7 data are compared to three previously published cloud climatologies.

The Nimbus-7 bispectral algorithm gives a monthly mean global noontime cloud cover of 51%, averaged over the 4 months. When only the IR is used, this cloud cover is 49% at noontime and 56% at midnight, indicating that the Earth's cloud cover has a substantial diurnal cycle. Each hemisphere shows a cloud cover maximum in its summer and a minimum in its winter. The Southern Hemisphere shows more clouds than the Northern Hemisphere except for the month of July.

The difference between the cloud-top and clear-scene radiance has maxima in the equatorial cloud belt and minima in the polar regions. Because of thew polar minima and the frequent presence of snow, Nimbus-7 cloud traction estimates are less reliable in the polar regions. In the tropics the data show more clouds at midnight than at noon. Over the tropical ocean, overcast regions show lower cloud top radiation temperatures at noon than at midnight, but over land the reverse occurs.

In July, cloud amounts in the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) peak at about 10°N latitude with local maxima greater than 70% around the west coasts of Africa and Central America, and from India east to the dateline. Cloud-top radiances indicate that mid- and high-level clouds predominate in the ITCZ, with 5% to 15% each of cirrus and deep convective clouds, respectively. In January, the peak of the ITCZ shifts to 10°S with local cloud maxima greater than 90% over Brazil and to the north and northwest of Australia. Comparison is made with several other cloud data sets, including a look at the new preliminary International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) results. There are considerable differences among the several data sets examined.

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