Articles | Volume 16, issue 7
Research article
15 Apr 2016
Research article |  | 15 Apr 2016

Long-range transport and mixing of aerosol sources during the 2013 North American biomass burning episode: analysis of multiple lidar observations in the western Mediterranean basin

Gerard Ancellet, Jacques Pelon, Julien Totems, Patrick Chazette, Ariane Bazureau, Michaël Sicard, Tatiana Di Iorio, Francois Dulac, and Marc Mallet

Abstract. Long-range transport of biomass burning (BB) aerosols between North America and the Mediterranean region took place in June 2013. A large number of ground-based and airborne lidar measurements were deployed in the western Mediterranean during the Chemistry-AeRosol Mediterranean EXperiment (ChArMEx) intensive observation period. A detailed analysis of the potential North American aerosol sources is conducted including the assessment of their transport to Europe using forward simulations of the FLEXPART Lagrangian particle dispersion model initialized using satellite observations by MODIS and CALIOP. The three-dimensional structure of the aerosol distribution in the ChArMEx domain observed by the ground-based lidars (Minorca, Barcelona and Lampedusa), a Falcon-20 aircraft flight and three CALIOP tracks, agrees very well with the model simulation of the three major sources considered in this work: Canadian and Colorado fires, a dust storm from western US and the contribution of Saharan dust streamers advected from the North Atlantic trade wind region into the westerlies region. Four aerosol types were identified using the optical properties of the observed aerosol layers (aerosol depolarization ratio, lidar ratio) and the transport model analysis of the contribution of each aerosol source: (i) pure BB layer, (ii) weakly dusty BB, (iii) significant mixture of BB and dust transported from the trade wind region, and (iv) the outflow of Saharan dust by the subtropical jet and not mixed with BB aerosol. The contribution of the Canadian fires is the major aerosol source during this episode while mixing of dust and BB is only significant at an altitude above 5 km. The mixing corresponds to a 20–30 % dust contribution in the total aerosol backscatter. The comparison with the MODIS aerosol optical depth horizontal distribution during this episode over the western Mediterranean Sea shows that the Canadian fire contributions were as large as the direct northward dust outflow from Sahara.

Short summary
A multi-lidar analysis conducted in the Mediterranean basin compares the impact of the long-range transport of North American biomass burning aerosols with the role of frequently observed Saharan dust outbreaks. This paper provides a detailed analysis of the potential North American aerosol sources, their transport to Europe and the mixing of different aerosol sources, using simulations of a particle dispersion model and lidar measurements of the aerosol optical properties.
Final-revised paper