Dust source identification using MODIS: a comparison of techniques applied to the Lake Eyre Basin, Australia
2009-04-22T13:06:30Z (GMT) by
The impact of mineral aerosol (dust) in the Earth's system depends on particle characteristics which are initially determined by the terrestrial sources from which the sediments are entrained. Remote sensing is an established method for the detection and mapping of dust events, and has recently been used to identify dust source locations with varying degrees of success. This paper compares and evaluates five principal methods, using MODIS Level 1B and MODIS Level 2 aerosol data, to: (a) differentiate dust (mineral aerosol) from non-dust, and (2) determine the extent to which they enable the source of the dust to be discerned. The five MODIS L1B methods used here are: (1) un-processed false colour composite (FCC), (2) brightness temperature difference, (3) Ackerman's (1997: J.Geophys. Res., 102, 17069–17080) procedure, (4) Miller's (2003:Geophys. Res. Lett. 30, 20, art.no.2071) dust enhancement algorithm and (5) Roskovensky and Liou's (2005: Geophys. Res. Lett. 32, L12809) dust differentiation algorithm; the aerosol product is MODIS Deep Blue (Hsu et al., 2004: IEEE Trans. Geosci. Rem. Sensing, 42, 557–569), which is optimised for use over bright surfaces (i.e. deserts). These are applied to four significant dust events from the Lake Eyre Basin, Australia. OMI AI was also examined for each event to provide an independent assessment of dust presence and plume location. All of the techniques were successful in detecting dust when compared to FCCs, but the most effective technique for source determination varied from event to event depending on factors such as cloud cover, dust plume mineralogy and surface reflectance. Significantly, to optimise dust detection using the MODIS L1B approaches, the recommended dust/non-dust thresholds had to be considerably adjusted on an event by event basis. MODIS L2 aerosol data retrievals were also found to vary in quality significantly between events; being affected in particular by cloud masking difficulties. In general, we find that OMI AI and MODIS AQUA L1B and L2 data are complementary; the former are ideal for initial dust detection, the latter can be used to both identify plumes and sources at high spatial resolution. Overall, approaches using brightness temperature difference (BT10–11) are the most consistently reliable technique for dust source identification in the Lake Eyre Basin. One reason for this is that this enclosed basin contains multiple dust sources with contrasting geochemical signatures. In this instance, BTD data are not affected significantly by perturbations in dust mineralogy. However, the other algorithms tested (including MODIS Deep Blue) were all influenced by ground surface reflectance or dust mineralogy; making it impossible to use one single MODIS L1B or L2 data type for all events (or even for a single multiple-plume event). There is, however, considerable potential to exploit this anomaly, and to use dust detection algorithms to obtain information about dust mineralogy.