Summary Results from:

Commentary on Wang and Zender-MODIS snow albedo bias at high solar zenith angles relative to theory and to in situ observations in Greenland
As they relate to the validation of MOD43

Authors: Schaaf, C. B., Z. Wang and A. H. Strahler

Source: Remote Sensing of Environment, 115, 1296-1300, 2011

Link to: Access Publication


The recent paper by Wang and Zender [Wang, X., & Zender, C. S. (2010). MODIS snow albedo bias at high solar zenith angles relative to theory and to in situ observations in Greenland. Remote Sensing of Environment.] draws erroneous conclusions about solar zenith angle biases at high latitudes by not making appropriate use of the extensive quality flags available with the MODIS BRDF/Albedo. Coarse resolution MODIS white-sky albedo data are compared with actual blue-sky field albedometer measurements from the Greenland GC-Net. By utilizing large area averages of the MODIS data product that combine both high quality and poor quality data indiscriminately, the authors erroneously conclude that the accuracy deteriorates for solar zenith angle (SZA) > 55° and often becomes physically unrealistic for SZA > 65°. Once the quality flags are considered, however, the comparisons demonstrate that the MODIS product performs quite well out to the recommended limit for product use of 70° SZA. This verifies the conclusions of an earlier more rigorous evaluation performed by Stroeve et al. [Stroeve, J., Box, J. E., Gao, F., Liang, S., Nolin, A., & Schaaf, C. B. (2005). Accuracy assessment of the MODIS 16-day albedo product for snow: comparisons with Greenland in situ measurements. Remote Sensing of Environment.]. With over a decade of observations and products now available from the MODIS instrument, these data are increasingly being used to evaluate and tune climate and biogeochemical models. However, such use should take into account the documented quality and limitations of the satellite-derived product.