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We investigated aerosol optical depth (AOD) under background and polluted conditions using Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET) and Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) observations. The AOD data were separated into background, high, and median AOD (BAOD, HAOD, and MAOD, respectively) based on the cumulative AOD distribution at each point and then their spatiotemporal variations were analyzed. Persistent pollutant emissions from industrial activity in South Asia (SUA) and Northeast Asia (NEA) produced the highest BAOD values. Gridded-BAODs obtained from VIIRS Deep Blue AOD products showed widespread high-level BAOD over the oceans associated with transport from dust and biomass burning events. The temporal variations in BAOD and HAOD were generally consistent with that of MAOD, but differences were found in seasonal variation as well as in long-term trends in some regions. Southeast Asia (SEA) and South America/South Africa (SAM/SAF) showed similar HAOD levels owing to biomass burning, but BAODs were higher in SEA than in SAM/SAF. In NEA, BAOD was lowest during the summer rainy season, as opposed to the peaks in MAOD and HAOD. Long-term trends of the AODs show clear regional characteristics. The AODs have decreasing trends in NEA, Europe/Mediterranean basin, and Northeast America but increasing trends in SUA, North Africa, and the Middle East. The trend of HAOD in Northwest America and Australia was opposite to that of BAOD. The spatiotemporal patterns of the HAOD and BAOD provide detailed information on changes in aerosol loading compared to using only MAOD.


NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Atmospheric Environment. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Atmospheric Environment, volume 245, in 2021.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.