Study: Evaluation of Novel NASA Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer and Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite Aerosol Products and Assessment of Smoke Height Boundary Layer Ratio During Extreme Smoke Events in the Western USA

We analyze new aerosol products from NASA satellite retrievals over the western USA during August 2013, with special attention to locally generated wildfire smoke and downwind plume structures. Aerosol optical depth (AOD) at 550 nm from MODerate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) (Terra and Aqua Collections 6 and 6.1) and Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) Deep Blue (DB) and MODIS (Terra and Aqua) Multi-Angle Implementation of Atmospheric Correction (MAIAC) retrievals are evaluated against ground-based AErosol RObotic NETwork (AERONET) observations. We find a significant improvement in correlation with AERONET and other metrics in the latest DB AOD (MODIS C6.1 r2 = 0.75, VIIRS r2 = 0.79) compared to MODIS C6 (r2 = 0.62). In general, MAIAC (r2 = 0.84) and DB (MODIS C6.1 and VIIRS) present similar statistical evaluation metrics for the western USA and are useful tools to characterize aerosol loading associated with wildfire smoke. We also evaluate three novel NASA MODIS plume injection height (PIH) products, one from MAIAC and two from the Aerosol Single scattering albedo and layer Height Estimation (ASHE) (MODIS and VIIRS) algorithm. Both Terra and Aqua MAIAC PIHs statistically agree with ground-based and satellite lidar observations near the fire source, as do ASHE, although the latter is sensitive to assumptions about aerosol absorption properties. We introduce a first-order approximation Smoke Height Boundary Layer Ratio (SHBLR) to qualitatively distinguish between aerosol pollution within the planetary boundary layer and the free troposphere. We summarize the scope, limitations, and suggestions for scientific applications of surface level aerosol concentrations specific to wildfire emissions and smoke plumes using these novel NASA MODIS and VIIRS aerosol products.

(Co-authors: Marcela Loría-Salazar, Andrew M. Sayer, John Barnes, Jingting Huang, Connor Flynn, Neil Lareau, Jaehwa Lee, Alexei Lyapustin, Jens Redemann, Ellsworth J. Welton, Joseph L. Wilkins, Heather A. Holmes)

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AGU JGR Atmospheres, 03 May, 2021


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