Redemann, J, Schmid, B, Eilers, JA, Kahn, R, Levy, RC, Russell, PB, Livingston, JM, Hobbs, PV, Smith, WL, Holben, BN (2005). Suborbital measurements of spectral aerosol optical depth and its variability at subsatellite grid scales in support of CLAMS 2001. JOURNAL OF THE ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES, 62(4), 993-1007.
As part of the Chesapeake Lighthouse and Aircraft Measurements for Satellites (CLAMS) experiment, 10 July-2 August 2001, off the central East Coast of the United States, the 14-channel NASA Ames Airborne Tracking Sunphotometer (AATS-14) was operated aboard the University of Washington's Convair 580 (CV-580) research aircraft during 10 flights (similar to 45 flight hours). One of the main research goals in CLAMS was the validation of satellite-based retrievals of aerosol properties. The goal of this study in particular was to perform true over-ocean validations (rather than over-ocean validation with ground-based, coastal sites) at finer spatial scales and extending to longer wavelengths than those considered in previous studies. Comparisons of aerosol optical depth (AOD) between the Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET) Cimel instrument at the Chesapeake Lighthouse and airborne measurements by AATS-14 in its vicinity showed good agreement with the largest r-square correlation coefficients at wavelengths of 0.38 and 0.5 mu m (> 0.99). Coordinated low-level flight tracks of the CV-580 during Terra overpass times permitted validation of over-ocean Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) level 2 (MOD04_L2) multi-wavelength ACID data (10 km x 10 km, nadir) in 16 cases on three separate days. While the correlation between AATS-14- and MODIS-derived ACID was weak with an r square of 0.55, almost 75% of all MODIS AOD measurements fell within the prelaunch estimated uncertainty range Delta tau = +/- 0.03 +/- 0.05 tau. This weak correlation may be due to the small AODs (generally less than 0.1 at 0.5 mu m) encountered in these comparison cases. An analogous coordination exercise resulted in seven coincident over-ocean matchups between AATS-14 and Multiangle Imaging Spectroradiometer (MISR) measurements. The comparison between AATS-14 and the MISR standard algorithm regional mean AODs showed a stronger correlation with an r square of 0.94. However, MISR AODs were systematically larger than the corresponding AATS values, with an rms difference of similar to 0.06. AATS data collected during nine extended low-level CV-580 flight tracks were used to assess the spatial variability in AOD at horizontal scales up to 100 km. At UV and midvisible wavelengths, the largest absolute gradients in AOD were 0.1-0.2 per 50-km horizontal distance. In the near-IR, analogous gradients rarely reached 0.05. On any given day, the relative gradients in AOD were remarkably similar for all wavelengths, with maximum values of 70% (50 km)(-1) and more typical values of 25% (50 km)(-1). The implications of these unique measurements of AOD spatial variability for common validation practices of satellite data products and for comparisons to large-scale aerosol models are discussed.