Combining airborne in situ and ground-based lidar measurements for attribution of aerosol layers
Abstract. Understanding the distribution of aerosol layers is important for determining long-range transport and aerosol radiative forcing. In this study we combine airborne in situ measurements of aerosol with data obtained by a ground-based high spectral resolution lidar (HSRL) and radiosonde profiles to investigate the temporal and vertical variability of aerosol properties in the lower troposphere. The HSRL was deployed in Hyytiälä, southern Finland, from January to September 2014 as a part of the U.S. DOE ARM (Atmospheric Radiation Measurement) mobile facility during the BAECC (Biogenic Aerosols – Effects on Cloud and Climate) Campaign. Two flight campaigns took place in April and August 2014 with instruments measuring the aerosol size distribution from 10 nm to 5 µm at altitudes up to 3800 m. Two case studies with several aerosol layers present were selected from the flight campaigns for further investigation: one clear-sky and one partly cloudy case. During the clear-sky case, turbulent mixing ensured small temporal and spatial variability in the measured aerosol size distribution in the boundary layer, whereas mixing was not as homogeneous in the boundary layer during the partly cloudy case. The elevated layers exhibited larger temporal and spatial variability in aerosol size distribution, indicating a lack of mixing. New particle formation was observed in the boundary layer during the clear-sky case, and nucleation mode particles were also seen in the elevated layers that were not mixing with the boundary layer. Interpreting local measurements of elevated layers in terms of long-range transport can be achieved using back trajectories from Lagrangian models, but care should be taken in selecting appropriate arrival heights, since the modelled and observed layer heights did not always coincide. We conclude that higher confidence in attributing elevated aerosol layers to their air mass origin is attained when back trajectories are combined with lidar and radiosonde profiles.