The recently launched Chinese GaoFen-4 (GF4) satellite provides valuable information to obtain geophysical parameters describing conditions in the atmosphere and at the Earth’s surface. The surface reflectance is an important parameter for the estimation of other remote sensing parameters linked to the eco-environment, atmosphere environment and energy balance. One of the key issues to achieve atmospheric corrected surface reflectance is to precisely retrieve the aerosol optical properties, especially Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD). The retrieval of AOD and corresponding atmospheric correction procedure normally use the full radiative transfer calculation or Look-Up-Table (LUT) methods, which is very time-consuming. In this paper, a Simplified AtmospHeric correction AlgoRithm for gAofen data (SAHARA) is presented for the retrieval of AOD and corresponding atmospheric correction procedure. This paper is the first part of the algorithm, which describes the aerosol retrieval algorithm. In order to achieve high-accuracy analytical form for both LUT and surface parameterization, the MODIS Dark-Target (DT) aerosol types and Deep Blue (DB) similar surface parameterization have been proposed for GF4 data. Limited Gaofen observations (i.e., all that were available) have been tested and validated. The retrieval results agree quite well with MODIS Collection 6.0 aerosol product, with a correlation coefficient of R2
= 0.72. The comparison between GF4 derived AOD and Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET) observations has a correlation coefficient of R2
= 0.86. The algorithm, after comprehensive validation, can be used as an operational running algorithm for creating aerosol product from the Chinese GF4 satellite.
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