Articles | Volume 13, issue 6
Research article
25 Mar 2013
Research article |  | 25 Mar 2013

The global 3-D distribution of tropospheric aerosols as characterized by CALIOP

D. M. Winker, J. L. Tackett, B. J. Getzewich, Z. Liu, M. A. Vaughan, and R. R. Rogers

Abstract. The CALIOP lidar, carried on the CALIPSO satellite, has been acquiring global atmospheric profiles since June 2006. This dataset now offers the opportunity to characterize the global 3-D distribution of aerosol as well as seasonal and interannual variations, and confront aerosol models with observations in a way that has not been possible before. With that goal in mind, a monthly global gridded dataset of daytime and nighttime aerosol extinction profiles has been constructed, available as a Level 3 aerosol product. Averaged aerosol profiles for cloud-free and all-sky conditions are reported separately. This 6-yr dataset characterizes the global 3-dimensional distribution of tropospheric aerosol. Vertical distributions are seen to vary with season, as both source strengths and transport mechanisms vary. In most regions, clear-sky and all-sky mean aerosol profiles are found to be quite similar, implying a lack of correlation between high semi-transparent cloud and aerosol in the lower troposphere. An initial evaluation of the accuracy of the aerosol extinction profiles is presented. Detection limitations and the representivity of aerosol profiles in the upper troposphere are of particular concern. While results are preliminary, we present evidence that the monthly-mean CALIOP aerosol profiles provide quantitative characterization of elevated aerosol layers in major transport pathways. Aerosol extinction in the free troposphere in clean conditions, where the true aerosol extinction is typically 0.001 km−1 or less, is generally underestimated, however. The work described here forms an initial global 3-D aerosol climatology which we plan to extend and improve over time.

Final-revised paper