EARLINET dust observations vs. BSC-DREAM8b modeled profiles: 12-year-long systematic comparison at Potenza, Italy
Abstract. In this paper, we report the first systematic comparison of 12-year modeled dust extinction profiles vs. Raman lidar measurements. We use the BSC-DREAM8b model, one of the most widely used dust regional models in the Mediterranean, and Potenza EARLINET lidar profiles for Saharan dust cases, the largest one-site database of dust extinction profiles. A total of 310 dust cases were compared for the May 2000–July 2012 period. The model reconstructs the measured layers well: profiles are correlated within 5% of significance for 60% of the cases and the dust layer center of mass as measured by lidar and modeled by BSC-DREAM8b differ on average 0.3 ± 1.0 km. Events with a dust optical depth lower than 0.1 account for 70% of uncorrelated profiles. Although there is good agreement in terms of profile shape and the order of magnitude of extinction values, the model overestimates the occurrence of dust layer top above 10 km. Comparison with extinction profiles measured by the Raman lidar shows that BSC-DREAM8b typically underestimates the dust extinction coefficient, in particular below 3 km. Lowest model–observation differences (below 17%) correspond to a lidar ratio at 532 nm and Ångström exponent at 355/532 nm of 60 ± 13 and 0.1 ± 0.6 sr, respectively. These are in agreement with values typically observed and modeled for pure desert dust. However, the highest differences (higher than 85%) are typically related to greater Ångström values (0.5 ± 0.6), denoting smaller particles. All these aspects indicate that the level of agreement decreases with an increase in mixing/modification processes.