Harmonized and high-quality datasets of aerosol optical depth at a US continental site, 1997-2018

Sci Data. 2021 Mar 11;8(1):82. doi: 10.1038/s41597-021-00866-2.


Aerosol optical depth (AOD) characterizes the aerosol burden in the atmosphere, while its wavelength dependence is a sign of particle size. Long-term records of wavelength-resolved AOD with high quality and suitable continuity are required for climate change assessment. Typically, climate-related studies use AOD products provided by several, and perhaps different, ground-based instruments. The measurements from these instruments often have different accuracy and temporal resolution. To preserve the advantages of these products (high quality) and to reduce their disadvantages (patchy records), we generate a merged dataset obtained from four instruments deployed at a US continental site in which a nearly-continuous AOD record is found at two wavelengths (500 and 870 nm) with high quality and high temporal resolution (1-min) for a 21-yr period (1997-2018). The combined dataset addresses: (1) varying data quality and resolution mismatch of the individual AOD records, and (2) the uncertainty of the merged AOD and its relevance for user-specified needs. The generated dataset will be beneficial for a wide range of applications including aerosol-radiation interactions.