We are currently preparing a data reprocessing of all SPOT4 (Take5) data, to be released before the end of 2013. For this, I tested several aerosol models and compiled all the validation results for our multi-temporal Aerosol Optical Thickness (AOT) estimation method named MACCS. Our estimates are compared to AERONET in-situ AOT measurements.The MACCS method applied to SPOT4(Take5) data, which lacks a blue band, uses two procedures to estimate AOT :

  • either the AOT is estimated by a multi-temporal method
  • or it is gap-filled. The presence of gaps may be due to clouds, water or snow, or because the pixel reflectance is too-high for an accurate estmate, or because of a too large variation of reflectance with time is detected.


Comparison of MACCS AOT estimates with the in-situ measurements from AERONET. The blue dots correspond to cases for which the atmosphere is stable and for which there are no clouds in the neighborhood of the AERONET site. The red dots correspond to situations when the AERONET optical thickness varies around the satellite overpass time, or when clouds are detected in the image neighbourhood (20*20 km). On the left plot, only the dates and sites for which less than 60% of the pixels were gap-filled; wheras the right plot only tolerates 20% of gap-filled pixels. The gap-filling method does not seem to introduce large amount of errors in wases when the atmosphere is stable, but it is less accurate in unstable cases..

 The aerosol estimates have been obtained with MACCS prototype which is developed and maintained by Mireille Huc at CESBIO. The aerosol model is not the same as the one used for SPOT4 (Take5) first processing. This model is based on greater particles (with a modal radius of 0.2µm, compared to 0.1µm in the initial processing), as it provides a better overall agreement with AERONET measurements. We will use this model for most sites for SPOT4(Take5) reprocessing. The RMS error of AOT estimates is 0.06, which is a state of the art performance, obtained in a very difficult condition with no blue band available. Moreover, in order to show more validation points, a few validation sites (Bruxelles, Gwangju, Ouarzazate, Wallops, NASA_LaRC) are in fact distant by more that 60 kilometers from the image footprint, which tends to degrade the performances. 

The AERONET sites used in this study are :


SPOT4 Take5 Site Aeronet Site
Belgium Brussels
South Great Plains Cart_Site
Korea Gwangju_GIST
Chesapeake NASA_LaRC
Chesapeake Wallops
Versailles Paris
Versailles Palaiseau
Tunisia Ben Salem
Maroc Saada
Maroc Ouarzazate
Sudmipy-Est Seysses + Le Fauga
Sudmipy-Ouest Seysses
Provence Carpentras
Provence Frioul


The worst results are obtained for the following sites :
  • Gwangju (Korea): The SPOT footprint in on the coast, while the AERONET site is 70 km inland, near a large town.
  • Ben Salem (Tunisia): this site was very cloudy in Spring, and large reflectance variations are observed between the remaining clear dates.
  • Palaiseau and Paris : In that case, the aerosol model seems to be inappropriate, and absorbing pollution aerosol should be introduced.

On the contrary, several sites provide very accurate results, for instance in Morocco (even the desertic Ouarzazate), Provence (including the Frioul Island where the AOT is extrapolated from the coast), and also Sudmipy, Wallops et Cart_site. Some SPOT4 (Take5) users reported inaccuracies on some tropical sites but we do not have an AERONET validation site near these SPOT4(Take5) sites. 

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