15 Sep 2023
 | 15 Sep 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion and under review for Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Monitoring biomass burning aerosol transport using CALIOP observations and reanalysis models: a Canadian wildfire event in 2019

Xiaoxia Shang, Antti Lipponen, Maria Filioglou, Anu-Maija Sundström, Mark Parrington, Virginie Buchard, Anton S. Darmenov, Ellsworth J. Welton, Eleni Marinou, Vassilis Amiridis, Michael Sicard, Alejandro Rodríguez-Gómez, Mika Komppula, and Tero Mielonen

Abstract. In May–June 2019, smoke plumes from wildfires in Alberta, Canada, were advected all the way to Europe. To analyze the evolution of the plumes and to estimate the amount of smoke aerosols transported to Europe, retrievals from the space-borne lidar CALIOP (Cloud-Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization) were used. The plumes were located with the help of a trajectory analysis, and the mass of smoke aerosols were retrieved from the CALIOP observations. The accuracy of the CALIOP mass retrievals was compared with the accuracy of ground-based lidars/ceilometer near the source in North America and after the long-range transport in Europe. Overall, CALIOP and the ground-based lidars/ceilometer produced comparable results. Over North America the CALIOP layer mean mass was 30 % smaller than the ground-based estimates, whereas over Southern Europe that difference varied between 12 % and 43 %. Finally, the CALIOP mass retrievals were compared with simulated aerosol concentrations from two reanalysis models, MERRA-2 (Modern-Era Retrospective analysis for Research and Applications, Version 2) and CAMS (Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring System). The simulated total column aerosol optical depths (AOD) and the total column mass concentration of smoke agreed quite well with CALIOP observations, but the comparison of the layer mass concentration of smoke showed significant discrepancies. The amount of smoke aerosols in the model simulations was consistently smaller than in the CALIOP retrievals. These results highlight the limitations of such models, and more specifically their limitation to reproduce properly the smoke vertical distribution. They indicate that CALIOP is a useful tool monitoring smoke plumes over secluded areas whereas reanalysis models have difficulties in representing the aerosol mass in these plumes. This study shows the advantages of space-borne aerosol lidars, e.g. being of paramount importance to monitor smoke plumes, and reveals the urgent need of future lidar missions in space.

Xiaoxia Shang et al.

Status: open (until 29 Oct 2023)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse

Xiaoxia Shang et al.

Data sets

CALIPSO data NASA Langley Research Center Atmospheric Science Data Center

MERRA-2 data NASA Goddard Earth Sciences (GES) Data and Information Services Center (DISC)

CAMS data Atmosphere Data Store


Visualization of lidar products of PollyNet PollyNet

Ceilometer data Cloudnet

Xiaoxia Shang et al.


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Short summary
In June 2019, smoke particles from a Canadian wildfire event were transported to Europe. The long-range transported smoke plumes were monitored with a space-borne lidar and reanalysis models. Based on the aerosol mass concentrations estimated from the observations, the reanalysis models had difficulties in reproducing the amount and location of the smoke aerosols during the transport event. Consequently, more spaceborne lidar missions are needed for reliable monitoring of aerosol plumes.