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Samain, O, Kergoat, L, Hiernaux, P, Guichard, F, Mougin, E, Timouk, F, Lavenu, F (2008). Analysis of the in situ and MODIS albedo variability at multiple timescales in the Sahel. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-ATMOSPHERES, 113(D14), D14119.

The variability of the Sahelian albedo is investigated through the combined analysis of 5 years of in situ radiation data from the African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis northernmost sites and remotely sensed albedo from 7 years of Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer data. Both data sets are found to be in good agreement in terms of correlation and bias. The drivers of albedo variability are identified by means of in situ measurements of biological and physical properties of the land surface collected over a network of 29 long-term survey sites. Short-term variability is dominated by changes in the spectral composition of incident radiation, which reflects aerosol optical depth and integrated water content, and changes in soil moisture, which have a short-lived effect (1 d). Bush fires cause a marked decrease of albedo of the order of 10 d, whereas a dry season storm event is suspected to have increased albedo through litter and soil surface abrasion. Seasonal plant growth causes the largest changes in rainy season albedo, and displays a large interannual variability: Because of the 2004 drought, albedo increases steadily from late 2003 to early 2005 at latitude 15 degrees N. Grazing pressure is found to impact albedo mostly in the dry season. Dry season albedo is controlled by the amount of litter and standing dead phytomass hiding the bright soils. Thus rainfall anomalies have a direct effect on albedo through plant growth but also a lagged effect caused by above normal amounts of dry phytomass that can persist until the arrival of the next monsoon. EOF analysis and Hovmuller diagrams show these effects to be present on a large scale.



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