Dust retrievals over the Sahara Desert during June 2011 from the IASI, MISR, MODIS, and SEVIRI satellite instruments are compared against each other in order to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each retrieval approach. Particular attention is paid to the effects of meteorological conditions, land surface properties, and the magnitude of the dust loading. The period of study corresponds to the time of the first Fennec intensive measurement campaign, which provides new ground-based and aircraft measurements of the dust characteristics and loading. Validation using ground-based AERONET sunphotometer data indicate that of the satellite instruments, SEVIRI is most able to retrieve dust during optically thick dust events, whereas IASI and MODIS perform better at low dust loadings. This may significantly affect observations of dust emission and the mean dust climatology. MISR and MODIS are least sensitive to variations in meteorological conditions, while SEVIRI tends to overestimate the aerosol optical depth (AOD) under moist conditions (with a bias against AERONET of 0.31), especially at low dust loadings where the AOD〈1. Further comparisons are made with airborne LIDAR measurements taken during the Fennec campaign, which provide further evidence for the inferences made from the AERONET comparisons. The effect of surface properties on the retrievals is also investigated. Over elevated surfaces IASI retrieves AODs which are most consistent with AERONET observations, while the AODs retrieved by MODIS tend to be biased low. In contrast, over the least emissive surfaces IASI significantly underestimates the AOD (with a bias of -0.41), while MISR and SEVIRI show closest agreement.
Earth Resources and Remote Sensing
Remote Sensing of Environment; 136; 99-116