An operational MODIS aerosol retrieval algorithm at high spatial resolution, and its application over a complex urban region

Man Sing Wong, Janet Elizabeth Nichol, Kwon Ho Lee

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Aerosol retrieval algorithms for the MODerate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) have been developed to estimate aerosol and microphysical properties of the atmosphere, which help to address aerosol climatic issues at global scale. However, higher spatial resolution aerosol products for urban areas have not been well-researched mainly due to the difficulty of differentiating aerosols from bright surfaces in urban areas. Here, an aerosol retrieval algorithm using the MODIS 500-m resolution bands is described, to retrieve aerosol properties over Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta region. The rationale of our technique is to first estimate the aerosol reflectances by decomposing the top-of-atmosphere reflectances from surface reflectances and Rayleigh path reflectances. For the determination of surface reflectances, a Minimum Reflectance Technique (MRT) is used, and MRT images are computed for different seasons. For conversion of aerosol reflectance to aerosol optical thickness (AOT), comprehensive Look Up Tables specific to the local region are constructed, which consider aerosol properties and sun-viewing geometry in the radiative transfer calculations. Four local aerosol types, namely coastal urban, polluted urban, dust, and heavy pollution, were derived using cluster analysis on 3years of AERONET measurements in Hong Kong. The resulting 500m AOT images were found to be highly correlated with ground measurements from the AERONET (r2=0.767) and Microtops II sunphotometers (r2=0.760) in Hong Kong. This study further demonstrates the application of the fine resolution AOT images for monitoring inter-urban and intra-urban aerosol distributions and the influence of trans-boundary flows. These applications include characterization of spatial patterns of AOT within the city, and detection of regional biomass burning sources.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-589
Number of pages11
JournalAtmospheric Research
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2011


  • Aerosols
  • Air pollution
  • Remote sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

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