This work examines the impact of different environmental attributes on the uncertainty in satellite-based Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD) retrieval against the benchmark Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET) AOD measurements at 21 sites across North Africa, California and Germany, in the years 2007–2017. As a first step, we studied the effects of spatial averaging the Multi-Angle Implementation of Atmospheric Correction (MAIAC) AOD retrievals, and of temporal averaging the AERONET AOD around the satellite (Aqua) overpass, on the agreement between the two products. AERONET AOD averaging over a time-window of ±15 min around the satellite overpass and the 1 × 1 km2 spatial grid of MAIAC were found to provide the best AOD retrieval performance. Next, MAIAC AOD were stratified according to different co-measured environmental attributes (aerosol loading, dominant particle size, vegetation cover, and prevailing particle type) and analyzed against the AERONET AOD. The envelope of the expected retrieval error varied considerably among different environmental attributes categories, with more accurate AOD retrievals obtained over highly vegetated areas (i.e. less surface reflectance) than over arid areas. Moreover, the retrieval accuracy was found to be sensitive to the aerosol loading and particle size, with a large bias between the MAIAC and AERONET AOD during high aerosol loading of coarse particles. In addition, the retrieval accuracy of MAIAC AOD was found to depend on the aerosol type due to the aerosol model assumptions regarding their optical properties.
- AOD retrieval
- Aerosol type