Wang, J, Christopher, SA (2003). Intercomparison between satellite-derived aerosol optical thickness and PM2.5 mass: Implications for air quality studies. GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, 30(21), 2095.
We explore the relationship between column aerosol optical thickness (AOT) derived from the Moderate Resolution Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MODIS) on the Terra/Aqua satellites and hourly fine particulate mass (PM2.5) measured at the surface at seven locations in Jefferson county, Alabama for 2002. Results indicate that there is a good correlation between the satellite-derived AOT and PM2.5 (linear correlation coefficient, R = 0.7) indicating that most of the aerosols are in the well-mixed lower boundary layer during the satellite overpass times. There is excellent agreement between the monthly mean PM2.5 and MODIS AOT (R > 0.9), with maximum values during the summer months due to enhanced photolysis. The PM2.5 has a distinct diurnal signature with maxima in the early morning (6:00 similar to 8:00 AM) due to increased traffic flow and restricted mixing depths during these hours. Using simple empirical linear relationships derived between the MODIS AOT and 24hr mean PM2.5 we show that the MODIS AOT can be used quantitatively to estimate air quality categories as defined by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with an accuracy of more than 90% in cloud-free conditions. We discuss the factors that affect the correlation between satellite-derived AOT and PM2.5 mass, and emphasize that more research is needed before applying these methods and results over other areas.