This study conducted the first comprehensive assessment of the aerosol optical depth (AOD) product retrieved from the observations by the Advanced Himawari Imager (AHI) onboard the Himawari-8 satellite. The AHI Level 3 AOD (Version 3.0) was evaluated using the collocated Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET) level 2.0 direct sun AOD measurements over the last three years (May 2016–December 2018) at 58 selected AERONET sites. A comprehensive comparison between AHI and AERONET AOD was carried out, which yielded a correlation coefficient (R) of 0.82, a slope of 0.69, and a root mean square error (RMSE) of 0.16. The results indicate a good agreement between AHI and AERONET AOD, while revealing that the AHI aerosol retrieval algorithm tends to underestimate the atmospheric aerosol load. In addition, the expected uncertainty of AHI Level 3 AOD (Version 3.0) is ± (0.1 + 0.3 × AOD). Furthermore, the performance of the AHI aerosol retrieval algorithm exhibits regional variation. The best performance is reported over East Asia (R 0.86), followed by Southeast Asia (R 0.79) and Australia (R 0.35). The monthly and seasonal comparisons between AHI and AERONET show that the best performance is found in summer (R 0.93), followed by autumn (R 0.84), winter (R 0.82), and spring (R 0.76). The worst performance was observed in March (R 0.75), while the best performance appeared in June (R 0.94). The variation in the annual mean AHI AOD on the scale of hours demonstrates that AHI can perform continuous (no less than ten hours) aerosol monitoring.
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