26 Feb 2021

26 Feb 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

Retrieval of aerosol microphysical properties from atmospheric lidar sounding: an investigation using synthetic measurements and data from the ACEPOL campaign

William G. K. McLean1, Guangliang Fu1, Sharon P. Burton2, and Otto P. Hasekamp1 William G. K. McLean et al.
  • 1Netherlands Institute for Space Research (SRON, NWO-I), Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 2NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA, USA

Abstract. This study presents an investigation of aerosol microphysical retrievals from High Spectral Resolution Lidar (HSRL) measurements. Firstly, retrievals are presented for synthetically-generated lidar measurements, followed by an application of the retrieval algorithm to real lidar measurements. Here, we perform the investigation for an aerosol state vector that is typically used in multi-angle polarimeter (MAP) retrievals, so that the results can be interpreted in relation to a potential combination of lidar and MAP measurements. These state vectors correspond to a bimodal size distribution, where column number, effective radius, and effective variance of both modes are treated as fit parameters, alongside the complex refractive index and particle shape. The focus is primarily on a lidar configuration based on that of the High Spectral Resolution Lidar-2 (HSRL-2), which participated in the ACEPOL (Aerosol Characterization from Polarimeter and Lidar) campaign, a combined project between NASA and SRON (Netherlands Institute for Space Research). The measurement campaign took place between October and November 2017, over the western region of the USA. Six different instruments were mounted on the aeroplane: four MAPs, and two lidar instruments: HSRL-2, and the Cloud Physics Lidar (CPL). Most of the flights were carried out over land, passing over scenes with a low aerosol load. One of the flights passed over a prescribed forest fire in Arizona on the 9th of November, with a relatively higher AOD, and it is the data from this flight that is focussed on in this study. A retrieval of the aerosol microphysical properties of the smoke plume mixture was attempted with the data from HSRL-2, and compared with a retrieval from the MAPs carried out in previous work pertaining to the ACEPOL data.

The synthetic HSRL-2 retrievals resulted for the fine mode in a mean absolute error (MAE) of 0.038 (0.025) μm for the effective radius, 0.052 (0.037) for the real refractive index, 0.010 (7.20 × 10−3) for the imaginary part of the refractive index, 0.109 (0.071) for the spherical fraction, and 0.054 (0.039) for the AOD at 532 nm, where the retrievals inside brackets indicate the MAE for noise-free retrievals. For the coarse mode, we find the MAE is 0.459 (0.254) μm for the effective radius, 0.085 (0.075) for the real refractive index, 2.06 × 10−4 (1.90 × 10−4) for the imaginary component, 0.120 (0.090) for the spherical fraction, and 0.051 (0.039) for the AOD. A study of the sensitivity of retrievals to the choice of prior and first guess showed that, on average, the retrieval errors increase when the prior deviates too much from the truth value. These experiments revealed that the measurements primarily contain information on the size and shape of the aerosol, along with the column number. Some information on the real component of the refractive index is also present, with the measurements providing little on absorption or on the effective variance of the aerosol distribution, as both of these were shown to depend heavily on the choice of prior.

Retrievals using the HSRL-2 smoke-plume data yielded, for the fine mode, an effective radius of 0.107 μm, a real refractive index of 1.561, an imaginary component of refractive index of 0.010, a spherical fraction of 0.719, and an AOD at 532 nm of 0.505. Additionally, the single-scattering albedo (SSA) from the HSRL-2 retrievals was 0.940. Overall, these results are in good agreement with those from the SPEX and RSP retrievals.

William G. K. McLean et al.

Status: open (until 23 Apr 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on amt-2021-29', Anonymous Referee #1, 16 Mar 2021 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on amt-2021-29', Anonymous Referee #2, 21 Mar 2021 reply
  • RC3: 'Comment on amt-2021-29', Anonymous Referee #3, 22 Mar 2021 reply

William G. K. McLean et al.

William G. K. McLean et al.


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Short summary
In this study, we present results from aerosol retrievals using both synthetic and real lidar datasets, including measurements from the ACEPOL (Aerosol Characterization from Polarimeter and Lidar) campaign, a combined initiative between NASA and SRON (the Netherlands Institute for Space Research). Aerosol microphysical retrievals were performed using the High Spectral Resolution Lidar-2 (HSRL-2) setup, alongside several others, with the ACEPOL retrievals also compared to polarimeter retrievals.