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Global and Seasonal Aerosol Optical Depths Derived From Ultraviolet Observations by Satellites (TOMS)It has been shown that absorbing aerosols (dust, smoke, volcanic ash) can be detected in the ultraviolet wavelengths (331 nm to 380 nm) from satellite observations (TOMS, Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer) over both land and water. The theoretical basis for these observations and their conversions to optical depths is discussed in terms of an aerosol index AI or N-value residue (assigned positive for absorbing aerosols). The theoretical considerations show that negative values of the AI frequently represent the presence of non-absorbing aerosols (NA) in the troposphere (mostly pollution in the form of sulfates, hydrocarbons, etc., and some natural sulfate aerosols) with particle sizes near 0.1 to 0.2 microns or less. The detection of small-particle non-absorbing aerosols from the measured backscattered radiances is based on the observed wavelength dependence from Mie scattering after the background Rayleigh scattering is subtracted. The Mie scattering from larger particles, 1 micron or more (e.g., cloud water droplets) has too small a wavelength dependence to be detected by this method. In regions that are mostly cloud free, aerosols of all sizes can be seen in the single channel 380 nm or 360 nm radiance data. The most prominent Al feature observed is the strong asymmetry in aerosol amount between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, with the large majority of NA occurring above 20degN latitude. The maximum values of non-absorbing aerosols are observed over the eastern U.S. and most of western Europe corresponding to the areas of highest industrial pollution. Annual cycles in the amount of NA are observed over Europe and North America with maxima occurring in the summer corresponding to times of minimum wind transport. Similarly, the maxima in the winter over the Atlantic Ocean occurs because of wind borne transport from the land. Most regions of the world have the maximum amount of non-absorbing aerosol in the December to January period except for the eastern North America and Europe. Comparisons of the estimated TOMS aerosol optical depths show good agreement in magnitude and seasonal dependence with sun-photometer optical depths obtained at Goddard Space Flight Center (39degN 76.88degW) in the U.S. and in Lille (50.63degN 3.07degE) in France. The study of these aerosols is important for detecting the sources of industrial pollution and its redistribution by winds on a global basis, as well as its effect on reducing the UV irradiance at the Earth's surface.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Herman, J. R. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD United States)
Torres, O. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1999
Subject Category
Earth Resources and Remote Sensing
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.