Evaluation of the NASA OBPG MERIS ocean surface PAR product in clear sky conditions

The operational MEdium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) daily mean photosynthetically available radiation (PAR) product generated by the NASA Ocean Biology Processing Group (OBPG) was evaluated in clear sky conditions against in-situ measurements at various sites in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea (BOUSSOLE buoy), the northwestern Pacific (CCE-1 and -2 moorings), and the northeastern Atlantic (COVE platform). The measurements were first checked and corrected for calibration errors and uncertainties in data processing by comparing daily means for clear days (i.e., no clouds from sunrise to sunset and low aerosol abundance) with theoretical values from an accurate Monte Carlo radiative transfer code. The OBPG algorithm performed well when sky was completely cloudless during daytime, with a bias of 0.26 E/m(2)/d (0.6%) and a RMS difference of 1.7 E/m(2)/d (4.0%). Using satellite-derived aerosol optical thickness (AOT) and Angstrom coefficient instead of climatology slightly degraded the results, which was likely due to uncertainties in the aerosol retrievals. A sensitivity study to aerosol properties indicated that climatology may not work in some situations (e.g., episodic dust, pollution, or biomass burning events), suggesting that it is best to use actual aerosol estimates in clear sky conditions. The analysis also revealed that specifying aerosol properties, therefore atmospheric transmittance, from AOT and Angstrom coefficient, even retrieved from the satellite imagery, may not be sufficient in the presence of absorbing aerosols, especially when loadings are important. Performance was degraded when including situations of clear sky at the time of the MERIS observation but cloudy sky before and/or after overpass, resulting in a bias (overestimation) of 2.8 E/m(2)/d (7.3%) and a RMS difference of 6.0 E/m(2)/d (15.8%). The relatively large overestimation was due to the inability of the OBPG PAR algorithm to detect cloudiness at times other than the time of satellite overpass. The key to improving the daily mean PAR estimates in such situations does not reside so much in improving the radiative transfer treatment or specifying more accurately aerosol properties, but rather in accounting properly for the diurnal variability of cloudiness. To this end, a methodology that utilized Modern Era Retrospective Reanalysis for Research and Applications, Version 2 (MERRA-2) hourly cloud data (fractional coverage, optical thickness) was proposed and tested, reducing the bias to 1.6 E/m(2)/d (4.2%). Improvement was not sufficient in some situations, due to the coarse resolution and uncertainties of the MERRA-2 products, which could not describe properly the cloud properties at the local scale (MERIS pixel). The treatment is applicable to any cloud situation and should be considered in a future version of the of OBPG PAR algorithm. This would require, however, refreshing the standard OBPG PAR products generated as part of the ocean-color processing line according to MERRA-2 data availability. (C) 2020 Optical Society of America under the terms of the OSA Open Access Publishing Agreement

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Tan Jing, Frouin Robert, Jolivet Dominique, Compiegne Mathieu, Ramon Didier (2020). Evaluation of the NASA OBPG MERIS ocean surface PAR product in clear sky conditions. Optics Express. 28 (22). 33157-33175. https://doi.org/10.1364/OE.396066, https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00675/78672/

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