Two decades observing smoke above clouds in the south-eastern Atlantic Ocean: Deep Blue algorithm updates and validation with ORACLES field campaign data
This study presents and evaluates an updated algorithm for quantification of absorbing aerosols above clouds (AACs) from passive satellite measurements. The focus is biomass burning in the south-eastern Atlantic Ocean during the 2016 and 2017 ObseRvations of Aerosols above CLouds and their intEractionS (ORACLES) field campaign deployments. The algorithm retrieves the above-cloud aerosol optical depth (AOD) and underlying liquid cloud optical depth and is applied to measurements from the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS), Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), and Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) from 1997 to 2017. Airborne NASA Ames Spectrometers for Sky-Scanning, Sun-Tracking Atmospheric Research (4STAR) and NASA Langley High Spectral Resolution Lidar 2 (HSRL2) data collected during ORACLES provide important validation for spectral AOD for MODIS and VIIRS; as the SeaWiFS mission ended in 2010, it cannot be evaluated directly. The 4STAR and HSRL2 comparisons are complementary and reveal performance generally in line with uncertainty estimates provided by the optimal estimation retrieval framework used. At present the two MODIS-based data records seem the most reliable, although there are differences between the deployments, which may indicate that the available data are not yet sufficient to provide a robust regional validation. Spatiotemporal patterns in the data sets are similar, and the time series are very strongly correlated with each other (correlation coefficients from 0.95 to 0.99). Offsets between the satellite data sets are thought to be chiefly due to differences in absolute calibration between the sensors. The available validation data for this type of algorithm are limited to a small number of field campaigns, and it is strongly recommended that such airborne measurements continue to be made, both over the southern Atlantic Ocean and elsewhere.