Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Atmospheric Sciences

First Advisor

Jianglong Zhang


Using Visible/Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) Day/Night Band (DNB) data, a method, dubbed the “variance method”, is developed for retrieving nighttime aerosol optical thickness (AOT) values based on the dispersion of radiance values above an artificial light source. An improvement of a previous algorithm, this updated method derives a semi-quantitative indicator of nighttime AOT using artificial light sources. Nighttime AOT retrievals from the newly developed method are inter-compared with an interpolated value from late afternoon and early morning ground observations from four AErosol RObotic NETwork (AERONET) sites as well as column-integrated  from one High Spectral Resolution LiDAR (HSRL) site at Huntsville, AL during the NASA Studies of Emissions and Atmospheric Composition, Clouds and Climate Coupling by Regional Surveys (SEAC4RS) campaign, providing full diel coverage. This method does not account for lunar reflectance from either the surface or the aerosol layer. Sensitivity tests do no indicate large systematic or random errors associated with lunar illumination. VIIRS AOT retrievals yield a coefficient of determination (r^2) of 0.60 and a root-mean-squared-error (RMSE) of 0.18 when compared against straddling daytime-averaged AERONET AOT values. Preliminary results suggest that artificial light sources can be used for estimating regional and global nighttime aerosol distributions in the future.