1Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique, UMR8539, CNRS/IPSL, Ecole Polytechnique, Palaiseau, France
2Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales, Toulouse, France
3Laboratoire d'Optique Atmosphérique, Université des Sciences et Technologies de Lille, Villeneuve d'Ascq, France
*now at: M3 Systems c/o CLS, Space Oceanography Division, Ramonville-St-Agne, France
Abstract. Infrared Atmospheric Sounder Interferometer (IASI) observations covering the period from July 2007 to December 2011 are interpreted in terms of monthly mean, 1°×1°, 10 μm dust Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD), mean altitude and coarse mode effective radius. The geographical study area includes the northern tropical Atlantic and the northwest Arabian Sea, both characterised by strong, regular dust events. The method developed relies on the construction of Look-Up-Tables computed for a large selection of atmospheric situations and observing conditions. At a regional scale, a good agreement is found between IASI-retrieved 10 μm AOD and total visible optical depth at 550 nm from either the Moderate resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS/Aqua or Terra), or the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR), or the Polarization and Anisotropy of Reflectances for Atmospheric Science coupled with Observations from a Lidar (PARASOL). Taking into account the ratio existing between infrared and visible AODs, the diversity between the different 550 nm AODs is similar to the difference between these and the IASI AODs. The infrared AOD to visible AOD ratio, partly reflecting the varying distribution of the dust layer between the dust coarse mode particles seen by IASI, and the fine mode seen by the other instruments, is found to vary with the region observed with values close to already published values. Comparisons between the climatologies of the 10 μm IASI AOD and of the PARASOL non-spherical coarse mode AOD at 865 nm, both expected to be representative of the dust coarse mode, lead to conclusions differing according to the region considered. These differences are discussed in the light of the MODIS Angström exponent (865–550 nm). At local scale, around six Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET) sites, close or far from the dust sources, a similar satisfactory agreement is found between IASI and the visible AODs and the differences between these products are shown and analysed. IASI-retrieved dust layer mean altitudes also compare well with the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP/CALIPSO) aerosol mean layer altitude, both in terms of climatology and of zonal evolution throughout the Atlantic. Comparisons between the IASI-retrieved dust coarse mode effective radius and retrievals from AERONET at the six sites brings into evidence an almost systematic bias of about +0.35 μm (IASI-AERONET). Removing this bias leads to a satisfactory agreement between the climatologies of these two products. Overall, these results illustrate the dust westward transport characterised by a fast decrease of the dust optical depth, a somewhat slower decrease of the altitude, and an effective radius remaining almost constant during summer throughout the northern tropical Atlantic. They also demonstrate the capability of high resolution infrared sounders to contribute improving our understanding of processes related to the aerosols (transport, sources, cycles, effect of aerosols on the terrestrial radiation, etc.).