Model-enforced post-process correction of satellite aerosol retrievals

Lipponen, Antti; Kolehmainen, Ville; Kolmonen, Pekka; Kukkurainen, Antti; Mielonen, Tero; Sabater, Neus; Sogacheva, Larisa; Virtanen, Timo H.; Arola, Antti

Satellite-based aerosol retrievals provide a timely view of atmospheric aerosol properties, having a crucial role in the subsequent estimation of air quality indicators, atmospherically corrected satellite data products, and climate applications. However, current aerosol data products based on satellite data often have relatively large biases compared to accurate ground-based measurements and distinct uncertainty levels associated with them. These biases and uncertainties are often caused by oversimplified assumptions and approximations used in the retrieval algorithms due to unknown surface reflectance or fixed aerosol models. Moreover, the retrieval algorithms do not usually take advantage of all the possible observational data collected by the satellite instruments and may, for example, leave some spectral bands unused. The improvement and the re-processing of the past and current operational satellite data retrieval algorithms would become tedious and computationally expensive. To overcome this burden, we have developed a model-enforced post-process correction approach to correct the existing operational satellite aerosol data products. Our approach combines the existing satellite aerosol retrievals and a post-processing step carried out with a machine-learning-based correction model for the approximation error in the retrieval. The developed approach allows for the utilization of auxiliary data sources, such as meteorological information, or additional observations such as spectral bands unused by the original retrieval algorithm. The post-process correction model can learn to correct for the biases and uncertainties in the original retrieval algorithms. As the correction is carried out as a post-processing step, it allows for computationally efficient re-processing of existing satellite aerosol datasets without fully re-processing the much larger original radiance data. We demonstrate with over-land aerosol optical depth (AOD) and Ångström exponent (AE) data from the Moderate Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) of the Aqua satellite that our approach can significantly improve the accuracy of the satellite aerosol data products and reduce the associated uncertainties. For instance, in our evaluation, the number of AOD samples within the MODIS Dark Target expected error envelope increased from 63 inline-formula% to 85 inline-formula% when the post-process correction was applied. In addition to method description and accuracy results, we also give recommendations for validating machine-learning-based satellite data products.

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Lipponen, Antti / Kolehmainen, Ville / Kolmonen, Pekka / et al: Model-enforced post-process correction of satellite aerosol retrievals. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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