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Aerosol Product
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Product Description

Smoke from biomass burning in Brazil

The MODIS Aerosol Product monitors the ambient aerosol optical thickness over the oceans globally and over a portion of the continents. Further, the aerosol size distribution is derived over the oceans, and the aerosol type is derived over the continents. Daily Level 2 data are produced at the spatial resolution of a 10x10 1-km (at nadir)-pixel array. There are two MODIS Aerosol data product files: MOD04_L2, containing data collected from the Terra platform; and MYD04_L2, containing data collected from the Aqua platform.

Research and Application

Aerosols are one of the greatest sources of uncertainty in climate modeling. Aerosols vary in time in space and can lead to variations in cloud microphysics, which could impact cloud radiative properties and climate. The MODIS aerosol product is used to study aerosol climatology, sources and sinks of specific aerosol types (e.g., sulfates and biomass-burning aerosol), interaction of aerosols with clouds, and atmospheric corrections of remotely sensed surface reflectance over the land.

Data Set Evolution

Prior to MODIS, satellite measurements were limited to reflectance measurements in one (GOES, METEOSAT) or two (AVHRR) channels. There was no real attempt to retrieve aerosol content over land on a global scale. Algorithms had been developed for use only over dark vegetation. The blue channel on MODIS, not present on AVHRR, offers the possibility to extend the derivation of optical thickness over land to additional surfaces. The algorithms will use MODIS bands 1 through 7 and 20 and require prior cloud screening using MODIS data. Over the land, the dynamic aerosol models will be derived from ground-based sky measurements and used in the net retrieval process.

Over the ocean, three parameters that describe the aerosol loading and size distribution will be retrieved. Pre-assumptions on the general structure of the size distribution are required in the inversion of MODIS data, and the volume-size distribution will be described with two log-normal modes: a single mode to describe the accumulation mode particles (radius < 0.5 µm) and a single coarse mode to describe dust and/or salt particles (radius > 1.0 µm). The aerosol parameters we therefore expect to retrieve are: the ratio between the two modes, the spectral optical thickness, and the mean particle size.

The quality control of these products will be based on comparison with ground stations and climatology.

Additional Information

Coverage: Global over oceans, nearly global over land
Spatial/Temporal Characteristics: 10 km for Level 2
Key Science Applications: Aerosol climatology,biomass-burning aerosols, atmospheric corrections, cloud radiative properties, climate modeling
Key Geophysical Parameters: Atmospheric aerosol optical depth (global) and aerosol size distribution (oceans)
Processing Level: 2
Product Type: Standard, at-launch
File Frequency: 144/day
Data Format: HDF

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