CALIPSO climatological products: evaluation and suggestions from EARLINET
Abstract. The CALIPSO Level 3 (CL3) product is the most recent data set produced by the observations of the Cloud–Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP) instrument onboard the Cloud–Aerosol Lidar and Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) space platform. The European Aerosol Research Lidar Network (EARLINET), based mainly on multi-wavelength Raman lidar systems, is the most appropriate ground-based reference for CALIPSO calibration/validation studies on a continental scale. In this work, CALIPSO data are compared against EARLINET monthly averaged profiles obtained by measurements performed during CALIPSO overpasses. In order to mitigate uncertainties due to spatial and temporal differences, we reproduce a modified version of CL3 data starting from CALIPSO Level 2 (CL2) data. The spatial resolution is finer and nearly 2° × 2° (latitude × longitude) and only simultaneous measurements are used for ease of comparison. The CALIPSO monthly mean profiles following this approach are called CALIPSO Level 3*, CL3*. We find good agreement on the aerosol extinction coefficient, yet in most of the cases a small CALIPSO underestimation is observed with an average bias of 0.02 km−1 up to 4 km and 0.003 km−1 higher above. In contrast to CL3 standard product, the CL3* data set offers the possibility to assess the CALIPSO performance also in terms of the particle backscatter coefficient keeping the same quality assurance criteria applied to extinction profiles. The mean relative difference in the comparison improved from 25 % for extinction to 18 % for backscatter, showing better performances of CALIPSO backscatter retrievals. Additionally, the aerosol typing comparison yielded a robust identification of dust and polluted dust. Moreover, the CALIPSO aerosol-type-dependent lidar ratio selection is assessed by means of EARLINET observations, so as to investigate the performance of the extinction retrievals. The aerosol types of dust, polluted dust, and clean continental showed noticeable discrepancy. Finally, the potential improvements of the lidar ratio assignment have been examined by adjusting it according to EARLINET-derived values.