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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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Atmos. Meas. Tech., 11, 2911-2936, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
18 May 2018
Comparison of dust-layer heights from active and passive satellite sensors
Arve Kylling1, Sophie Vandenbussche2, Virginie Capelle3, Juan Cuesta4, Lars Klüser5, Luca Lelli6, Thomas Popp5, Kerstin Stebel1, and Pepijn Veefkind7,8 1NILU – Norwegian Institute for Air Research, P.O. Box 100, 2027 Kjeller, Norway
2Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB), Brussels, Belgium
3Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique (LMD), UMR8539, CNRS/IPSL, Ecole Polytechnique, Palaiseau, France
4Laboratoire Interuniversitaire des Systémes Atmosphériques (LISA), CNRS UMR7583, Université Paris Est Créteil, Université Paris Diderot, Créteil, France
5Deutsches Zentrum für Luft-und Raumfahrt e.V. (DLR), Deutsches Fernerkundungsdatenzentrum (DFD), 82234 Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
6Institute of Environmental Physics (IUP), University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany
7Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), 3730 AE De Bilt, the Netherlands
8Geosciences and Remote Sensing, Delft University of Technology, 2628 AA Delft, the Netherlands
Abstract. Aerosol-layer height is essential for understanding the impact of aerosols on the climate system. As part of the European Space Agency Aerosol_cci project, aerosol-layer height as derived from passive thermal and solar satellite sensors measurements have been compared with aerosol-layer heights estimated from CALIOP measurements. The Aerosol_cci project targeted dust-type aerosol for this study. This ensures relatively unambiguous aerosol identification by the CALIOP processing chain. Dust-layer height was estimated from thermal IASI measurements using four different algorithms (from BIRA-IASB, DLR, LMD, LISA) and from solar GOME-2 (KNMI) and SCIAMACHY (IUP) measurements. Due to differences in overpass time of the various satellites, a trajectory model was used to move the CALIOP-derived dust heights in space and time to the IASI, GOME-2 and SCIAMACHY dust height pixels. It is not possible to construct a unique dust-layer height from the CALIOP data. Thus two CALIOP-derived layer heights were used: the cumulative extinction height defined as the height where the CALIOP extinction column is half of the total extinction column, and the geometric mean height, which is defined as the geometrical mean of the top and bottom heights of the dust layer. In statistical average over all IASI data there is a general tendency to a positive bias of 0.5–0.8 km against CALIOP extinction-weighted height for three of the four algorithms assessed, while the fourth algorithm has almost no bias. When comparing geometric mean height there is a shift of −0.5 km for all algorithms (getting close to zero for the three algorithms and turning negative for the fourth). The standard deviation of all algorithms is quite similar and ranges between 1.0 and 1.3 km. When looking at different conditions (day, night, land, ocean), there is more detail in variabilities (e.g. all algorithms overestimate more at night than during the day). For the solar sensors it is found that on average SCIAMACHY data are lower by −1.097 km (−0.961 km) compared to the CALIOP geometric mean (cumulative extinction) height, and GOME-2 data are lower by −1.393 km (−0.818 km).
Citation: Kylling, A., Vandenbussche, S., Capelle, V., Cuesta, J., Klüser, L., Lelli, L., Popp, T., Stebel, K., and Veefkind, P.: Comparison of dust-layer heights from active and passive satellite sensors, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 11, 2911-2936,, 2018.
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
The aerosol layer height is one of four aerosol parameters which is needed to enhance our understanding of aerosols' role in the climate system. Both active and passive measurement methods may be used to estimate the aerosol layer height. Aerosol height estimates made from passive infrared and solar satellite sensors measurements are compared with satellite-borne lidar estimates. There is considerable variation between the retrieved dust heights and how they compare with the lidar.
The aerosol layer height is one of four aerosol parameters which is needed to enhance our...