The uncertainty in aerosol size distributions is a main source of errors in aerosol optical thickness determined from satellite measurements. To reduce the errors resulting from the uncertainty in aerosol size distributions, we have performed sensitivity analyses. It is found the errors resulting from the uncertainty in aerosol size distribution can be considerably reduced by using the Junge power law to approximate the aerosol size distribution in an actual atmosphere, if the exponent value is determined at the same time. An iterative algorithm is then developed for the simultaneous determination of aerosol optical thickness and the exponent of the Junge power law over ocean areas from the upwelling radiances measured in AVHRR visible and near infrared channels. A number of numerical experiments are carried out to investigate the validity of the Junge power law approximation by assuming the aerosol size distributions in an actual atmosphere are bimodal with different mode parameters, and by using the actual aerosol size distributions determined at several places by Kaufman et al. (1994). The results show that the errors in determined aerosol optical thickness resulting from the Junge power law approach are significantly reduced. The iterative algorithm is investigated further by comparing the aerosol optical thickness deduced from satellite measurement with that observed by a sun photometer.