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Previous attempts to explain the effect of aerosols on satellite measurements of surface properties for the visible and near-infrared spectrum have emphasized the amount of aerosols without consideration of their absorption properties. In order to estimate the importance of absorption, the radiances of the sunlight scattered from models of the Earth-atmosphere system are computed as functions of the aerosol optical thickness and absorption. The absorption effect is small where the surface reflectance is weak, but is important for strong reflectance. These effects on classification of surface features, measuring vegetation index, and measuring surface reflectance are presented.