Articles | Volume 5, issue 2
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 5, 345–355, 2005
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 5, 345–355, 2005

  08 Feb 2005

08 Feb 2005

Fluorescence from atmospheric aerosol detected by a lidar indicates biogenic particles in the lowermost stratosphere

F. Immler1, D. Engelbart2, and O. Schrems1 F. Immler et al.
  • 1Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Am Handelshafen 12, 27570 Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 2German Weather Service, Meteorological Observatory Lindenberg, Am Observatorium 12, 15848 Lindenberg, Germany

Abstract. With a lidar system that was installed in Lindenberg/Germany, we observed in June 2003 an extended aerosol layer at 13km altitude in the lowermost stratosphere. This layer created an inelastic backscatter signal that we detected with a water vapour Raman channel, but that was not produced by Raman scattering. Also, we find evidence for inelastic scattering from a smoke plume from a forest fire that we observed in the troposphere. We interpret the unexpected properties of these aerosols as fluorescence induced by the laser beam at organic components of the aerosol particles. Fluorescence from ambient aerosol had not yet been considered detectable by lidar systems. However, organic compounds such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons sticking to the aerosol particles, or bioaerosol such as bacteria, spores or pollen fluoresce when excited with UV-radiation in a way that is detectable by our lidar system. Therefore, we conclude that fluorescence from organic material released by biomass burning creates, inelastic backscatter signals that we measured with our instrument and thus demonstrate a new and powerful way to characterize aerosols by a remote sensing technique. The stratospheric aerosol layer that we have observed in Lindenberg for three consecutive days is likely to be a remnant from Siberian forest fire plumes lifted across the tropopause and transported around the globe.

Final-revised paper