1NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA
2Goddard Earth Sciences Technology And Research (GESTAR), Universities Space Research Association (USRA), Columbia, MD, USA
3Science Systems Applications Inc., Lanham, MD, USA
4University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA
5Gangneung-Wonju National University, Gangneung City, Gangwon Province, Korea
Abstract. Both sensor calibration and satellite retrieval algorithm play an important role in the ability to determine accurately long-term trends from satellite data. Owing to the unprecedented accuracy and long-term stability of its radiometric calibration, SeaWiFS measurements exhibit minimal uncertainty with respect to sensor calibration. In this study, we take advantage of this well-calibrated set of measurements by applying a newly-developed aerosol optical depth (AOD) retrieval algorithm over land and ocean to investigate the distribution of AOD, and to identify emerging patterns and trends in global and regional aerosol loading during its 13-yr mission. Our correlation analysis between climatic indices (such as ENSO) and AOD suggests strong relationships for Saharan dust export as well as biomass-burning activity in the tropics, associated with large-scale feedbacks. The results also indicate that the averaged AOD trend over global ocean is weakly positive from 1998 to 2010 and comparable to that observed by MODIS but opposite in sign to that observed by AVHRR during overlapping years. On regional scales, distinct tendencies are found for different regions associated with natural and anthropogenic aerosol emission and transport. For example, large upward trends are found over the Arabian Peninsula that indicate a strengthening of the seasonal cycle of dust emission and transport processes over the whole region as well as over downwind oceanic regions. In contrast, a negative-neutral tendency is observed over the desert/arid Saharan region as well as in the associated dust outflow over the north Atlantic. Additionally, we found decreasing trends over the eastern US and Europe, and increasing trends over countries such as China and India that are experiencing rapid economic development. In general, these results are consistent with those derived from ground-based AERONET measurements.