Retrieval of aerosol microphysical properties from atmospheric lidar sounding: an investigation using synthetic measurements and data from the ACEPOL campaign

McLean, William G. K.; Fu, Guangliang; Burton, Sharon P.; Hasekamp, Otto P.

This study presents an investigation of aerosol microphysical retrievals from high spectral resolution lidar (HSRL) measurements. Firstly, retrievals are presented for synthetically generated lidar measurements, followed by an application of the retrieval algorithm to real lidar measurements. Here, we perform the investigation for an aerosol state vector that is typically used in multi-angle polarimeter (MAP) retrievals, so that the results can be interpreted in relation to a potential combination of lidar and MAP measurements. These state vectors correspond to a bimodal size distribution, where column number, effective radius, and effective variance of both modes are treated as fit parameters, alongside the complex refractive index and particle shape. The focus is primarily on a lidar configuration based on that of the High Spectral Resolution Lidar-2 (HSRL-2), which participated in the ACEPOL (Aerosol Characterization from Polarimeter and Lidar) campaign, a combined project between NASA and SRON (Netherlands Institute for Space Research). The measurement campaign took place between October and November 2017, over the western region of the USA. Six different instruments were mounted on the aeroplane: four MAPs and two lidar instruments, HSRL-2 and the Cloud Physics Lidar (CPL). Most of the flights were carried out over land, passing over scenes with a low aerosol load. One of the flights passed over a prescribed forest fire in Arizona on 9 November, with a relatively higher aerosol optical depth (AOD), and it is the data from this flight that are focussed on in this study. A retrieval of the aerosol microphysical properties of the smoke plume mixture was attempted with the data from HSRL-2 and compared with a retrieval from the MAPs carried out in previous work pertaining to the ACEPOL data.

The synthetic HSRL-2 retrievals resulted for the fine mode in a mean absolute error (MAE) of 0.038 (0.025) inline-formulaµm for the effective radius (with a mean truth value of 0.195 inline-formulaµm), 0.052 (0.037) for the real refractive index, 0.010 (inline-formula M3inlinescrollmathml normal 7.20 × normal 10 - normal 3 57pt14ptsvg-formulamathimge59ca6b1c0651e80d29f39369123d6a6 amt-14-4755-2021-ie00001.svg57pt14ptamt-14-4755-2021-ie00001.png ) for the imaginary part of the refractive index, 0.109 (0.071) for the spherical fraction, and 0.054 (0.039) for the AOD at 532 nm, where the retrievals inside brackets indicate the MAE for noise-free retrievals. For the coarse mode, we find the MAE is 0.459 (0.254) inline-formulaµm for the effective radius (with a mean truth value of 1.970 inline-formulaµm), 0.085 (0.075) for the real refractive index, inline-formula M6inlinescrollmathml normal 2.06 × normal 10 - normal 4 57pt14ptsvg-formulamathimg35c4d0d50c549566698dd8a7f68fefa9 amt-14-4755-2021-ie00002.svg57pt14ptamt-14-4755-2021-ie00002.png (inline-formula M7inlinescrollmathml normal 1.90 × normal 10 - normal 4 57pt14ptsvg-formulamathimg4645638201b7032b4db614541d81a2d3 amt-14-4755-2021-ie00003.svg57pt14ptamt-14-4755-2021-ie00003.png ) for the imaginary component, 0.120 (0.090) for the spherical fraction, and 0.051 (0.039) for the AOD. A study of the sensitivity of retrievals to the choice of prior and first guess showed that, on average, the retrieval errors increase when the prior deviates too much from the truth value. These experiments revealed that the measurements primarily contain information on the size and shape of the aerosol, along with the column number. Some information on the real component of the refractive index is also present, with the measurements providing little on absorption or on the effective variance of the aerosol distribution, as both of these were shown to depend heavily on the choice of prior.

Retrievals using the HSRL-2 smoke-plume data yielded, for the fine mode, an effective radius of 0.107 inline-formulaµm, a real refractive index of 1.561, an imaginary component of refractive index of 0.010, a spherical fraction of 0.719, and an AOD at 532 nm of 0.505. Additionally, the single-scattering albedopage4756 (SSA) from the HSRL-2 retrievals was 0.940. Overall, these results are in good agreement with those from the Spectropolarimeter for Planetary Exploration (SPEX) and Research Scanning Polarimeter (RSP) retrievals.

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McLean, William G. K. / Fu, Guangliang / Burton, Sharon P. / et al: Retrieval of aerosol microphysical properties from atmospheric lidar sounding: an investigation using synthetic measurements and data from the ACEPOL campaign. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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