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Carl C. Norton, Frederick R. Mosher, and Barry Hinton

Abstract

Applications Technology Satellite (ATS) 3 green sensor data are used to measure surface reflectance variations in the Sahara/Sahel during the recent drought period 1967–74. The magnitude of the seasonal reflectance change is shown to be as much as 80% for years of normal precipitation and less than 50% for drought years. Year-to-year comparisons during both wet and dry seasons reveal the existence of a surface reflectance cycle coincident with the drought intensity. The relationship between the green reflectance and solar albedo is examined and estimated to be about 0.6 times the reflectance change observed by the green channel.

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Carl C. Norton, Frederick R. Mosher, Barry Hinton, David W. Martin, David Santek, and William Kuhlow

Abstract

A technique has been developed to infer the optical thickness of Saharan dust from Synchronous Meteorological Satellite (SMS) brightness measurements at visible wavelengths. The scattering model consists of an air layer, a dust layer and a lower boundary of variable albedo. Single-scatter properties of the dust computed from Mie theory were the basis for calculations by plane-parallel theory of radiative transfer in the dust layer. Radiative interactions between air and dust layers and the lower boundary were calculated with an adding version of the doubling scheme. Optical thickness was determined from satellite brightness measurements through a lookup table produced by the adding program. SMS visible sensors were calibrated from the prelaunch calibration measurements and measurements of sun and space. Error analysis and tests indicate a potential accuracy of ∼0.1 unit of optical thickness. The main limits on accuracy are digitizing resolution of the SMS visible signals, and mistaking clouds for dust in the satellite imagery. This technique of inferring Saharan dust turbidity has been verified and fine-tuned using surface turbidity measurements during GATE and corresponding SMS imagery.

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