Saharan dust intrusions over the northern Mediterranean region in the frame of EARLINET (2014–2017): Properties and impact in radiative forcing
Abstract. Remote sensing measurements of aerosols using depolarization Raman Lidar systems from 4 EARLINET (European Aerosol research Lidar Network) stations are used for a comprehensive analysis of Saharan dust events over the Mediterranean basin in the period 2014–2017. In this period, we selected to study 51 dust events regarding the geometrical, optical and microphysical properties of dust particles, classifying them and assessing their radiative forcing effect on the atmosphere. From West
... osphere. From West to East, the stations of Granada, Potenza, Athens and Limassol were selected as representative Mediterranean cities regularly affected by Saharan dust intrusions. Emphasis was given on lidar measurements in the visible (532 nm) and specifically on the consistency of the particle linear depolarization ratio (δp532), the extinction-to-backscatter lidar ratio (LR532) and the Aerosol Optical Thickness (AOT532) within the observed dust layers. We found mean δp532 values of 0.24 ± 0.05, 0.26 ± 0.06, 0.28 ± 0.05 and 0.28 ± 0.04, mean LR532 values of 52 ± 8 sr, 51 ± 9 sr, 52 ± 9 sr and 49 ± 6 sr, and mean AOT532 values of 0.40 ± 0.31, 0.11 ± 0.07, 0.12 ± 0.10 and 0.32 ± 0.17, for Granada, Potenza, Athens and Limassol, respectively. The mean layer thickness values were found to range from ~1700 to ~3400 m. Additionally, based also on a previous aerosol type classification scheme provided by airborne High Spectral Resolution Lidar (HSRL) observations and on air mass backward trajectory analysis, a clustering analysis was performed in order to identify the major mixing aerosol types over the studied area. Furthermore, a synergy of lidar measurements and modeling was used to deeply analyze the solar and thermal radiative forcing of airborne dust. In total, a cooling behavior in the solar range and a significantly lower heating behavior in the thermal range was estimated. Depending on the dust optical and geometrical properties, the load intensity and the solar zenith angle (SZA), the estimated solar radiative forcing values range from −59 to −22 W m−2 at the surface and from −24 to −1 W m−2 at the top of the atmosphere (TOA). Similarly, in the thermal spectral range these values range from +2 to +4 W m−2 for the surface and from +1 to +3 W m−2 for the TOA. Finally, the radiative forcing seems to be inversely proportional to the dust mixing ratio, since higher absolute values are estimated for less mixed dust layers.