Articles | Volume 14, issue 15
Research article
08 Aug 2014
Research article |  | 08 Aug 2014

Reconciling aerosol light extinction measurements from spaceborne lidar observations and in situ measurements in the Arctic

M. Tesche, P. Zieger, N. Rastak, R. J. Charlson, P. Glantz, P. Tunved, and H.-C. Hansson

Abstract. In this study we investigate to what degree it is possible to reconcile continuously recorded particle light extinction coefficients derived from dry in situ measurements at Zeppelin station (78.92° N, 11.85° E; 475 m above sea level), Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, that are recalculated to ambient relative humidity, as well as simultaneous ambient observations with the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP) aboard the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) satellite. To our knowledge, this represents the first study that compares spaceborne lidar measurements to optical aerosol properties from short-term in situ observations (averaged over 5 h) on a case-by-case basis. Finding suitable comparison cases requires an elaborate screening and matching of the CALIOP data with respect to the location of Zeppelin station as well as the selection of temporal and spatial averaging intervals for both the ground-based and spaceborne observations. Reliable reconciliation of these data cannot be achieved with the closest-approach method, which is often used in matching CALIOP observations to those taken at ground sites. This is due to the transport pathways of the air parcels that were sampled. The use of trajectories allowed us to establish a connection between spaceborne and ground-based observations for 57 individual overpasses out of a total of 2018 that occurred in our region of interest around Svalbard (0 to 25° E, 75 to 82° N) in the considered year of 2008. Matches could only be established during winter and spring, since the low aerosol load during summer in connection with the strong solar background and the high occurrence rate of clouds strongly influences the performance and reliability of CALIOP observations. Extinction coefficients in the range of 2 to 130 Mm−1 at 532 nm were found for successful matches with a difference of a factor of 1.47 (median value for a range from 0.26 to 11.2) between the findings of in situ and spaceborne observations (the latter being generally larger than the former). The remaining difference is likely to be due to the natural variability in aerosol concentration and ambient relative humidity, an insufficient representation of aerosol particle growth, or a misclassification of aerosol type (i.e., choice of lidar ratio) in the CALIPSO retrieval.

Final-revised paper