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AEROSAT International Satellite Aerosol Science Network

Terms of Reference


Motivation and Background

Information on the occurrence and properties of atmospheric aerosol is of crucial importance for climate and atmospheric research, numerical weather prediction, air quality monitoring and natural hazards.  Satellite retrieval of aerosol properties, together with ground-based in-situ and remote sensing, and atmospheric models, are the essential tools used to provide aerosol information.

​Satellite aerosol retrieval and data exploitation is often undertaken by individuals or small separate groups across the world mostly driven by the availability of certain instruments. Interaction takes place mainly on a personal level driven by scientific curiosity. However, the active collaboration between a group of experts with a critical mass has proven to provide results exceeding individual efforts. Examples are the MODIS and MISR teams in the USA and, more recently, the European Space Agency's Climate Change Initiative (CCI). Based on this experience the  International Satellite Aerosol Science Network AEROSAT has been established.


AEROSAT Terms of Reference

(as endorsed at the constituting meeting Hamburg, 27/9/2013)

​AEROSAT shall be an unfunded, open, independent, international network of aerosol remote sensing scientists (retrieval experts, validation experts, data centres) and users of satellite aerosol data. The goal of AEROSAT is to promote the use of satellite data complementary to other sources of information (in-situ and remote sensing, ground-based, airborne; models on all relevant scales) to better understand and provide information on the role of aerosols on climate, climate change, air quality, natural hazards and atmospheric processes. This will be achieved through an open and active exchange of information on satellite aerosol retrievals and products, their limitations and their use in both the scientific community and in applications for the benefit of society. Of particular importance is to match the requirements of users of satellite products, in the widest possible sense, to the technical capabilities of data providers. Involvement of instrument engineers, represented by space agencies, is an important aspect to benefit from the latest technological advances. Furthermore, standardization of data formats, data standards (e.g. error flags, uncertainties) and nomenclature shall be pursued.


This goal will achieved by:

  • Communication and coordination between producers of satellite information on aerosol properties and the global user community.  The AEROSAT network aims to develop consensus among data producers and satellite aerosol data user communities, and to provide a collective voice to the appropriate international bodies, international scientific programs and space agencies.
  • Building partnerships with international bodies (e.g. WMO, CEOS, IPCC), scientific programs (e.g. GCOS, GEWEX, GEOSS, AEROCOM, ICAP, GALION), and user agencies (e.g. meteorological offices, environment agencies) to harmonize international efforts and advance satellite aerosol science and applications.
  • Promoting the long-term continuity of satellite aerosol data sets; the development of operational aerosol data services and new generations of high-quality aerosol satellite missions; and the integration of data from complementary satellites.
  • Developing and harmonising user access to satellite aerosol data and ancillary information (metadata). 
  • Helping users to understand the strengths and weaknesses of different satellite aerosol products by promoting activities to intercompare aerosol data sets and to assess product accuracies in a common and reproducible way.
  • Encouraging the open exchange of satellite, model, ground-based remote sensing and in-situ aerosol data streams and associated information, and establishing an interoperable global data access network for aerosol data streams and archives from different producers.
  • Organizing Technical Advisory Groups to support the development and use of satellite aerosol information, to promote scientific insight and innovation, to identify best-practices, and to facilitate the transfer of new science into user's applications.


Organisation and Management

AEROSAT aims at a close collaboration with related international aerosol initiatives AEROCOM (models), ICAP (forecasts), GALION (lidar) and AERONET (sun photometers) and defines its role to lead on all aspects of satellite retrievals.

AEROSAT shall organize one meeting per year in alternating locations (Europe, Americas, Asia). All meetings shall be open to interested scientists worldwide. As far as appropriate AERO-SAT meetings shall be associated with AEROCOM workshops.

AEROSAT shall establish working groups focusing on specific problems associated with, e.g., retrieval aspects (technical, scientific, etc.) to improve the results and expand information, consistency with other (non-aerosol) retrieval products as well as in-situ and model data, user requirements and the application of satellite aerosol products, etc. Such working groups are open to contributors, will be led by a small steering group from which a chair will be selected, have a limited duration and report during AEROSAT meetings. All results shall be documented and when suitable offered for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.


In order to assure long-term consistency of AEROSAT:

  • AEROSAT will be managed by a chair assisted by a steering committee (SC). The SC has a mandate for three years, with a possible second period. Rotation will be such that half the SC will be replaced every 3 years.
  • Three co-chairs (one from Europe, US, Asia) shall be selected (for terms of 3 years), whose major responsibility will be to organize the annual meetings. They will be part of the Steering Committee.
  • At each meeting the host and location of the next meeting shall be agreed upon.
  • AEROSAT will set up and maintain a website to distribute its information (ToR, presentations, conclusions, announcements, etc.).