Aerosol optical thicknesses (AOTs) by the MODerate Resolution Imaging Spetroradiometer (MODIS) on-board Aqua and Terra satellites, and ground-based measurements of PM10 mass concentrations, collected over three years (2006–2008) at two suburban sites which are 20 km apart, are correlated to assess the
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Aerosol optical thicknesses (AOTs) by the MODerate Resolution Imaging Spetroradiometer (MODIS) on-board Aqua and Terra satellites, and ground-based measurements of PM10 mass concentrations, collected over three years (2006–2008) at two suburban sites which are 20 km apart, are correlated to assess the use of satellite data for regional air quality studies over Southeastern Italy, in the central Mediterranean. Due to the geographical location, this area is affected by local and long-range transported marine, desert (from Sahara), and anthropogenic (from continental Europe) aerosols. 24-hour averaged PM10 mass concentrations span the 1.6–152 µg/m 3
range. Yearly means of PM10 mass concentrations decrease from 2006 to 2008 and vary within the 26–36 µg/m 3
range. Daily mean values of MODIS AOTs vary up to 0.8 at 550 nm, while yearly means span the 0.15–0.17 range. A first assessment of the regression relationship between daily averaged PM10 mass concentrations and MODIS-AOTs shows that linear correlation coefficients ( R
) vary within the 0.20–0.35 range and are affected by the sampling year and the site location. The PM10-AOT correlation becomes stronger (0.34 ≤ R
≤ 0.57) when the analysis is restricted to clear-sky MODIS measurements. The cloud screening procedure adopted within the AERONET network is used in this study to select clear-sky MODIS measurements, since it allows obtaining larger R
values than the ones obtained using the cloud fraction MODIS product to select clear-sky MODIS measurements. Using three years of clear-sky measurements to estimate PM10 mass concentrations from MODIS-AOTs, the empirical relation we have found is: PM10 ( m g/m 3
) = 25 ( m g/m 3
) + 65 ( m g/m 3
) × AOT. Over 80% of the differences between the measured and satellite estimated PM10 mass concentrations over the three years are within ±1 standard deviation of the yearly means. The differences between yearly means of calculated and measured mass concentrations that are close to zero in 2006, increase up to 4 m g/m 3
at one siteand 8 m g/m 3
at the other site in 2008. The PM10 mass concentration decrease from 2006 to 2008 contributes to this last result. Our results demonstrate the potential of MODIS data for deriving indirect estimates of PM10 over Southeastern Italy. It is also shown that a stronger relationship between PM10 and MODIS-AOTs is obtained when the AOT is divided by the product of the mixing layer height with the ground wind speed and the analysis restricted to clear sky MODIS measurements. However, we have found that the stronger correlation (0.52 ≤ R
≤ 0.66) does not allow a significant improvement of MODIS-based-estimates of PM10 mass concentrations.