A Single-Scattering Albedo (SSA) value of 1.0 means that an aerosol scatters light, but does not absorb it. Clouds have an SSA near 1 at most wavelengths. Values less than 1.0 mean that light is being absorbed. Both dust and smoke absorb light, particularly at ultraviolet wavelengths.
OMI and Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) observations are a few minutes apart. The CALIPSO satellite provides new insight into the role that clouds and atmospheric aerosols (airborne particles) play in regulating Earth's weather, climate, and air quality. CALIPSO combines an active lidar instrument with passive infrared and visible imagers to probe the vertical structure and properties of thin clouds and aerosols over the globe.
These figures show a typical cross section through a Sarahan dust cloud. The red line indicates the CALIPSO orbital track. The CALIPSO lidar backscatter measurements show an extensive dust layer occurring at altitudes between about 3 and 6 km. Clouds (white color) are also present above and below this dust plume. The red line in the figure on the left indicates the CALIPSO orbital track.
OMI retrievals of SSA (below) are improved by using estimates of the aerosol height from CALIPSO. Red values of SSA show the regions where smoke and dust absorb sunlight.
Learn all about aerosols in this Earth Observatory article
Courtesy Omar Torres Hampton Univ.