Atmospheric aerosols originate from a variety of sources and exhibit different microphysical and radiative properties, as well spatial and temporal distributions. Depending on these aerosol characteristics, they can exert significant impact on the air quality, the hydrological cycle, and climate. Because of the rapid advancement in remote sensing during the last couple of decades, aerosol retrievals have become widely available from multiple spaceborne sensors globally, at least over the last decade. However, because of the differences in the sensor measurement characteristics and algorithms used for aerosol retrievals, the products are sometimes inconsistent, making it difficult to derive objective measures of aerosol amounts and properties, and leaving aerosol products users confused as to which products to use.
In this talk, I will discuss the Multi-sensor Aerosol Products Sampling System (MAPSS) project that provides the facility for consistent joint multi-sensor aerosol inter-comparison analysis and validation relative to aerosol retrievals from AERONET ground-based sensors. I will explain the approach used in MAPSS and will show how it can be used to inter-compare aerosol observations from multiple sensors, including AERONET, MODIS (on Terra and Aqua), MISR, OMI, POLDER, CALIOP, and SeaWiFS. Specific examples comparing aerosol retrievals acquired by multiple satellites will be also presented and discussed, focusing on such properties of the data as the quality assurance (QA), sampling, and data outliers. I will also briefly talk about technical aspects associated with processing, handling, and analysis of the vastly diverse and massive aerosol data supported in MAPSS.