The role of aerosol layer height in quantifying aerosol absorption from ultraviolet satellite observations

Jiyunting Sun*, Pepijn Veefkind, Swadhin Nanda, Peter Van Velthoven, Pieternel Levelt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
35 Downloads (Pure)


The purpose of this study is to demonstrate the role of aerosol layer height (ALH) in quantifying the single scattering albedo (SSA) from ultraviolet satellite observations for biomass burning aerosols. In the first experiment, we retrieve SSA by minimizing the near-ultraviolet (near-UV) absorbing aerosol index (UVAI) difference between observed values and those simulated by a radiative transfer model. With the recently released S-5P TROPOMI ALH product constraining forward simulations, a significant gap in the retrieved SSA (0.25) is found between radiative transfer simulations with spectral flat aerosols and those with strong spectrally dependent aerosols, implying that inappropriate assumptions regarding aerosol absorption spectral dependence may cause severe misinterpretations of the aerosol absorption. In the second part of this paper, we propose an alternative method to retrieve SSA based on a long-term record of co-located satellite and ground-based measurements using the support vector regression (SVR) approach. This empirical method is free from the uncertainties due to the imperfection of a priori assumptions on aerosol microphysics seen in the first experiment. We present the potential capabilities of SVR using several fire events that have occurred in recent years. For all cases, the difference between SVR-retrieved SSA and AERONET are generally within ±0:05, and over half of the samples are within ±0:03. The results are encouraging, although in the current phase the model tends to overestimate the SSA for relatively absorbing cases and fails to predict SSA for some extreme situations. The spatial contrast in SSA retrieved by radiative transfer simulations is significantly higher than that retrieved by SVR, and the latter better agrees with SSA from MERRA-2 reanalysis. In the future, more sophisticated feature selection procedures and kernel functions should be taken into consideration to improve the SVR model accuracy. Moreover, the high-resolution TROPOMI UVAI and co-located ALH products will guide us to more reliable training data sets and more powerful algorithms to quantify aerosol absorption from UVAI records.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6319-6340
Number of pages22
JournalAtmospheric Measurement Techniques
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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