Evaluation of the representativeness of ground-based visibility for analysing the spatial and temporal variability of aerosol optical thickness in China

Zhao Yang Zhang, Man Sing Wong, Kwon Ho Lee

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, ground-based visibility, MODerate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) monthly AOT products between July 2002 and December 2014 were analyzed in order to extract the dominant modes of variability using the Singular Value Decomposition (SVD) method. The method has significant merit to reduce data dimension and examine both spatial and temporal variability simultaneously. Results indicated that the satellite retrieved AOTs agreed well with ground-based visibility in terms of inter-annual variability. The correlation coefficients in the first deseasonalized mode are greater than 0.65 between visibility and satellite AOT products. However, large differences were observed in the seasonal variability between ground-based visibility and AOT. In addition, Aerosol vertical distribution from LIdar climatology of Vertical Aerosol Structure for space-based lidar simulation studies (LIVAS) and cloud data from ground-based meteorological station were used to investigate the seasonal variability disagreement. The AOT values derived from LIVAS extinction coefficients between 0 and 500 m above surface have a stronger relationship with visibility, than total column AOT with visibility. It also indicates that seasonal variation of aerosol vertical distribution is the main cause of the disagreement between two parameters, and the uncertainties of satellite products also contribute to the disagreement. Results in this study highlighted that the visibility observation could only be used to depict the inter-annual AOT and more ancillary information could be used for studying seasonal AOT variation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-45
Number of pages15
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


  • Aerosol optical thickness
  • Singular value decomposition
  • Visibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science

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