About this dataset
Tiny solid and liquid particles suspended in the atmosphere are called aerosols. Examples of aerosols include windblown dust, sea salts, volcanic ash, smoke from fires, and pollution from factories. These particles are important to scientists because they can affect climate, weather, and people's health. Aerosols affect climate by scattering sunlight back into space and cooling the surface. Aerosols also help cool Earth in another way -- they act like "seeds" to help form clouds. The particles give water droplets something to cling to as the droplets form and gather in the air to make clouds. Clouds give shade to the surface by reflecting sunlight back into space. People's health is affected when they breathe in smoke or pollution particles. Such aerosols in our lungs can cause asthma or cancer of other serious health problems. But scientists do not fully understand all of the ways that aerosols affect Earth's environment. To help them in their studies, scientists use satellites to map where there were large amounts of aerosol on a given day, or over a span of days.
What do the colors mean?
In the maps shown here, dark brown pixels show high aerosol concentrations, while tan pixels show lower concentrations, and light yellow areas show little or no aerosols. Black shows where the sensor could not make its measurement.
ATBD (Algorithm Theoretical Basis Document)
Imagery by Reto Stockli, NASA's Earth Observatory, using data provided by the MODIS Atmosphere Science Team, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Federal Geographic Data Committee Geospatial Metadata
View the FGDC Metatdata for Aerosol Optical Thickness (1 day - Terra/MODIS)