Researchers Release Longest Single-Satellite Aerosol Record to Date

With the help of measurements from a now
defunct satellite called SeaWifs, researchers from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, led by Christina Hsu, have developed the longest single-satellite global record of aerosols to date. (Not sure what an aerosol is or what it has to do with the climate? Read this.)

The SeaWiFS aerosol record runs between 1997 and 2010 and will complement existing records from the MISR and MODIS instruments. Since these two important records don’t agree particularly well over land, scientists hope that  data from other outside sensors like SeaWiFS might help resolve some of the discrepancies and reduce the overall uncertainty in the aerosol portion of climate models.

The SeaWiFS record isn’t the only new tool coming online for aerosol climatologists. In October, a new satellite, the NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) will deliver a scanning radiometer called VIIRS into space that will also measure the ubiquitous particles. (Another mission launched in March, Glory, would have helped measure aerosols, but it never reached orbit because of a catastrophic problem with its rocket.)

Patching the VIIRS data together with the older datasets won’t necessarily be easy, but building long-running datasets that span decades  — the purpose of many of the satellites that are part of NASA’s Earth Observing System — is the key to getting climate change science right.

Top image of aerosol types (volcanic ash, pollen, sea salt, and soot) was published originally by the Earth Observatory.  SeaWiFS’s 13-years aerosol record for Washington DC was originally published here.
Peaks show times when aerosols are more abundant. The annual cycle is due to air stagnation in the summer. Text by Adam Voiland.

2 thoughts on “Researchers Release Longest Single-Satellite Aerosol Record to Date”

  1. I haven’t really figured out drag-drop yet… but this post is very worthwhile. Thanks for posting it!

    From Team

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