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Tanre, D, Kaufman, YJ, Herman, M, Mattoo, S (1997). Remote sensing of aerosol properties over oceans using the MODIS/EOS spectral radiances. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-ATMOSPHERES, 102(D14), 16971-16988.

Abstract
Spectral radiances measured at the top of the atmosphere in a wide spectral range (0.55-2.13 mu m) are used to monitor the aerosol optical thickness and the aerosol size distribution (integrated on the vertical column) of the ambient (undisturbed) aerosol over the oceans. Even for the moderate resolution imaging spectrometer (MODIS) wide spectral range, only three parameters that describe the aerosol loading and size distribution can be retrieved. These three parameters are not always unique. For instance, the spectral radiance of an aerosol with a bilognormal size distribution can be simulated very well with a single lognormal aerosol with an appropriate mean radius and width of distribution. Preassumptions on the general structure of the size distribution are therefore required in the inversion of MODIS data. The retrieval of the aerosol properties is performed using lookup table computations. The volume size distribution in the lookup table is described with two lognormal modes: a single mode to describe the accumulation mode particles (radius <0.5 mu m) and a single coarse mode to describe dust and/or salt particles (radius >1.0 mu m). Note that two accumulation modes may be present, one dominated by gas phase processes and a second dominated by cloud phase processes. The coarse mode can also be split into several partially overlapping modes describing maritime salt particles and dust. The aerosol parameters we expect to retrieve are eta, the fractional contribution of the accumulation mode to scattering; tau, the spectral optical thickness; and r(m), the mean particle size of the dominant mode. Additional radiative quantities such as asymmetry parameter and effective radius are derived subsequently. The impact of the surface conditions, wind speed and chlorophyll content on the retrieval is estimated, the impact of potential sources of error like the calibration of the instrument is also tested. The algorithm has been applied successfully to actual data sets provided by the Thematic Mapper on Landsat 5 and by the MODIS airborne simulator on the ER-2 and tested against ground and airborne measurements. A first estimate of the general accuracy is Delta tau = +/-0.05 +/- 0.05 tau (at 550 nm), Delta r(m) = 0.3r(m), Delta eta = 10.25.

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