On five occasions spanning the Asian Pacific Regional Aerosol Characterization Experiment (ACE-Asia) field campaign in spring 2001, the Multiangle Imaging Spectroradiometer spaceborne instrument took data coincident with high-quality observations by instruments on two or more surface and airborne platforms. The cases capture a range of clean, polluted, and dusty aerosol conditions. With a three-stage optical modeling process, we synthesize the data from over 40 field instruments into layer-by-layer environmental snapshots that summarize what we know about the atmospheric and surface states at key locations during each event. We compare related measurements and discuss the implications of apparent discrepancies, at a level of detail appropriate for satellite retrieval algorithm and aerosol transport model validation. Aerosols within a few kilometers of the surface were composed primarily of pollution and Asian dust mixtures, as expected. Medium- and coarse-mode particle size distributions varied little among the events studied; however, column aerosol optical depth changed by more than a factor of 4, and the near-surface proportion of dust ranged between 25% and 50%. The amount of absorbing material in the submicron fraction was highest when near-surface winds crossed Beijing and the Korean Peninsula and was considerably lower for all other cases. Having simultaneous single-scattering albedo measurements at more than one wavelength would significantly reduce the remaining optical model uncertainties. The consistency of component particle microphysical properties among the five events, even in this relatively complex aerosol environment, suggests that global, satellite-derived maps of aerosol optical depth and aerosol mixture (air-mass-type) extent, combined with targeted in situ component microphysical property measurements, can provide a detailed global picture of aerosol behavior
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