11 Oct 2023
 | 11 Oct 2023

Characterisation of dust aerosols from ALADIN and CALIOP measurements

Rui Song, Adam Povey, and Roy G. Grainger

Abstract. Atmospheric aerosols have a pronounced effect on climate dynamics at both regional and global scales, but the magnitude of these effects is subject to considerable uncertainties. A major contributor to these uncertainties is the incomplete understanding of aerosol's vertical structure, largely due to observational limitations. Spaceborne lidars can directly observe the vertical distribution of aerosols globally, and are increasingly used in atmospheric aerosol remote sensing. As the first spaceborne High Spectral Resolution Lidar (HSRL), the ALADIN instrument onboard the Aeolus satellite was operational from 2018 to 2023. With its sophisticated design, ALADIN can retrieve aerosol backscatter and extinction coefficients separately without an assumption of the lidar ratio. This study is dedicated to assessing the performance of ALADIN's aerosol retrieval capabilities by comparing them with CALIOP measurements. A statistical analysis of retrievals from both instruments during the June 2020 Saharan dust event indicates good consistency between the observed backscatter and extinction coefficients. A detailed comparison of extinction coefficients for dust layers reveals that ALADIN is more susceptible to signal attenuation than CALIOP. During this extreme dust event, CALIOP-derived aerosol optical depth (AOD) exhibited large discrepancies with MODIS Aqua measurements. Using collocated ALADIN observations to revise the dust lidar ratio to 63.5 sr, AODs retrieved from CALIOP are increased by 46 %, improving the comparison with MODIS data. Further, the combination of measurements from ALADIN and CALIOP can enhance the tracking of aerosols' vertical transport. This study demonstrates the potential for spaceborne HSRL to retrieve aerosol optical properties. It highlights the benefits of spaceborne HSRL in directly obtaining the lidar ratio, significantly reducing uncertainties in extinction retrievals. This work paves the way for forthcoming spaceborne HSRL missions, particularly the ESA ATLID space lidar (set for a 2024 launch) and Aeolus-2.

Rui Song et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2252', Anonymous Referee #1, 01 Nov 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2252', Anonymous Referee #2, 02 Nov 2023
  • RC3: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2252', Anonymous Referee #3, 04 Nov 2023
  • RC4: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2252', Anonymous Referee #4, 09 Nov 2023

Rui Song et al.

Rui Song et al.


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Short summary
In our study, we explored aerosols, tiny atmospheric particles affecting Earth's climate. Using data from two lidar-equipped satellites, we examined a 2020 Saharan dust event. The newer ALADIN satellite's results aligned with the CALIOP satellite. By merging their data, we corrected CALIOP's discrepancies, enhancing the dust event depiction. This underscores the significance of advanced satellite instruments in aerosol research. Our findings pave the way for upcoming satellite missions.