A substantial number of studies have analyzed how driving factors impact aerosols, but they have been little concerned with the spatial heterogeneity of aerosols and the factors that impact aerosols. The spatial distributions of the aerosol optical depth (AOD) retrieved by Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) data at 550-nm and 3-km resolution for three highly developed metropolises, the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei (BTH) region, the Yangtze River Delta (YRD), and the Pearl River Delta (PRD), in China during 2015 were analyzed. Different degrees of spatial heterogeneity of the AOD were found, which were indexed by Moran’s I index giving values of 0.940, 0.715, and 0.680 in BTH, YRD, and PRD, respectively. For the spatial heterogeneity, geographically weighted regression (GWR) was employed to carry out a spatial factor analysis, where terrain, climate condition, urban development, and vegetation coverage were taken as the potential driving factors. The results of the GWR imply varying relationships between the AOD and the factors. The results were generally consistent with existing studies, but the results suggest the following: (1) Elevation increase would more likely lead to a strong negative impact on aerosols (with most of the coefficients ranging from −1.5~0 in the BTH, −1.5~0 in the YRD, and −1~0 in the PRD) in the places with greater elevations where the R-squared values are always larger than 0.5. However, the variation of elevations cannot explain the variation of aerosols in the places with relatively low elevations (with R-squared values approximately 0.1, ranging from 0 to 0.3, and approximately 0.1 in the BTH, YRD, and PRD), such as urban areas in the BTH and YRD. (2) The density of the built-up areas made a strong and positive impact on aerosols in the urban areas of the BTH (R-squared larger than 0.5), while the R-squared dropped to 0.1 in the places far away from the urban areas. (3) The vegetation coverage led to a stronger relief on the AOD in parts of the YRD and PRD (with coefficients less than −0.6 and ranging from −0.4~−0.6, respectively) where there is greater vegetation coverage, and led to a weaker relief on the AOD in the urban area of the PRD with a coefficient of approximately −0.2~−0.4.
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