Comparison of scanning aerosol lidar and in situ measurements of aerosol physical properties and boundary layer heights

Zhang, Hengheng; Rolf, Christian; Tillmann, Ralf; Wesolek, Christian; Wienhold, Frank Gunther; Leisner, Thomas; Saathoff, Harald

The spatiotemporal distribution of aerosol particles in the atmosphere has a great impact on radiative transfer, clouds, and air quality. Modern remote sensing methods, as well as airborne in situ measurements by unpiloted aerial vehicles (UAV) or balloons, are suitable tools to improve our understanding of the role of aerosol particles in the atmosphere. To validate the measurement capabilities of three relatively new measurement systems and to bridge the gaps that are often encountered between remote sensing and in situ observation, as well as to investigate aerosol particles in and above the boundary layer, we conducted two measurement campaigns and collected a comprehensive dataset employing a scanning aerosol lidar, a balloon-borne radiosonde with the Compact Optical Backscatter Aerosol Detector (COBALD), an optical particle counter (OPC) on a UAV, and a comprehensive set of ground-based instruments. The extinction coefficients calculated from near-ground-level aerosol size distributions measured in situ are well correlated with those retrieved from lidar measurements, with a slope of 1.037 inline-formula± 0.015 and a Pearson correlation coefficient of 0.878, respectively. Vertical profiles measured by an OPC-N3 on a UAV show similar vertical particle distributions and boundary layer heights to lidar measurements. However, the sensor, OPC-N3, shows a larger variability in the aerosol backscatter coefficient measurements, with a Pearson correlation coefficient of only 0.241. In contrast, the COBALD data from a balloon flight are well correlated with lidar-derived backscatter data from the near-ground level up to the stratosphere, with a slope of 1.063 inline-formula± 0.016 and a Pearson correlation coefficient of 0.925, respectively. This consistency between lidar and COBALD data reflects the good data quality of both methods and proves that lidar can provide reliable and spatial distributions of aerosol particles with high spatial and temporal resolutions. This study shows that the scanning lidar has the capability to retrieve backscatter coefficients near the ground level (from 25 to 50 m above ground level) when it conducts horizontal measurement, which is not possible for vertically pointing lidar. These near-ground-level retrievals compare well with ground-level in situ measurements. In addition, in situ measurements on the balloon and UAV validated the scanning lidar retrievals within and above the boundary layer. The scanning aerosol lidar allows us to measure aerosol particle distributions and profiles from the ground level to the stratosphere with an accuracy equal to or better than in situ measurements and with a similar spatial resolution.

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Zhang, Hengheng / Rolf, Christian / Tillmann, Ralf / et al: Comparison of scanning aerosol lidar and in situ measurements of aerosol physical properties and boundary layer heights. 2024. Copernicus Publications.

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