• Open Access

Micropulse lidar-derived aerosol optical depth climatology at ARM sites worldwide



[1] This paper focuses on climatology of the vertical distribution of aerosol optical depth (AOD (z)) from micropulse lidar (MPL) observations for climatically different locations worldwide. For this, a large data set obtained by MPL systems operating at 532 nm during the 4 year period 2007–2010 was used to derive vertical profiles of AOD (z) by combining the corresponding AOD data as an input from an independent measurement using nearly colocated multifilter rotating shadowband radiometer (MFRSR) systems at five different U.S. Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program sites—three permanent sites (SGP in north-central Oklahoma, at 36.6°N, 97.5°W, 320 m; TWP-Darwin in the tropical western Pacific, at 12.4°S, 130.9°E, 30 m; and NSA at Barrow on the North Slope of Alaska, at 71.3°N, 156.6°W, 8 m) and two mobile facility sites (GRW at Graciosa Island in the Azores, at 39°N, 28°W, 15 m; and FKB in the Black Forest of Germany, at 48.5°N, 8.4°E, 511 m). Therefore, amount of data used in this study is constrained by the availability of the MFRSR data. The MPL raw data were averaged for 30 s in time and 30 m in altitude. The diurnally averaged AOD (z) profiles from 4 years were combined to obtain a multiyear vertical profile of AOD (z) climatology at various ARM sites, including diurnal, day-to-day, and seasonal variabilities. Most aerosols were found to be confined to 0–2 km (approximately the planetary boundary layer region) at all sites; however, all sites exhibited measurable aerosols well above the mixed layer, with different height maxima. The entire data set demonstrates large day-to-day variability at all sites. However, there is no significant diurnal variation in AOD (z) at all sites. Significant interannual variability was observed at the SGP site. Clear seasonal variations in AOD (z) profiles exist for all five sites, but seasonal behavior was distinct. Moreover, the different seasonal variability for the lower level (0 to ~2 km) versus the level above indicates a contribution of different types of air masses from different sources. The lower annual mean AOD (z) values (0.093 ± 0.033 for daytime and 0.093 ± 0.05 for nighttime) observed near the surface at GRW are not unexpected for maritime aerosols (mostly sea salt), and the corresponding higher values at SGP (0.118 ± 0.038 for daytime and 0.11 ± 0.05 for nighttime), FKB (0.124 ± 0.042 for daytime and 0.127 ± 0.047 for nighttime), and TWP (0.13 ± 0.078 for daytime and 0.14 ± 0.073 for nighttime) are usual for continental aerosols. The annual mean AOD (z) values observed near the surface during daytime and nighttime for NSA were 0.1 ± 0.042 and 0.09 ± 0.037, respectively. These results will aid the scientific community in understanding aerosol properties and boundary layer dynamics and in improving the incorporation of aerosol radiative effects into global climate models.