Statistical validation of Aeolus L2A particle backscatter coefficient retrievals over ACTRIS/EARLINET stations on the Iberian Peninsula

Abril-Gago, J., Guerrero-Rascado, J. L., Costa, M. J., Bravo-Aranda, J. A., Sicard, M., Bermejo-Pantaleón, D., Bortoli, D., Granados-Muñoz, M. J., Rodríguez-Gómez, A., Muñoz-Porcar, C., Comerón, A., Ortiz-Amezcua, P., Salgueiro, V., Jiménez-Martín, M. M., and Alados-Arboledas, L.: Statistical validation of Aeolus L2A particle backscatter coefficient retrievals over ACTRIS/EARLINET stations on the Iberian Peninsula, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 22, 1425–1451,, 2022

The Global Observing System (GOS) has encountered some limitations due to a lack of worldwide real-time wind measurements. In this context, the European Space Agency (ESA) has developed the Aeolus satellite mission, based on the ALADIN (Atmospheric Laser Doppler Instrument) Doppler wind lidar; this mission aims to obtain near-real-time wind retrievals at the global scale. As spin-off products, the instrument retrieves aerosol optical properties such as particle backscatter and extinction coefficients. In this work, a validation of Aeolus reprocessed (baseline 10) co-polar backscatter coefficients () is presented through an intercomparison with analogous ground-based measurements taken at the ACTRIS (Aerosols, Clouds and Trace gases Research InfraStructure Network)/EARLINET (European Aerosol Research Lidar Network) stations of Granada (Spain), Évora (Portugal) and Barcelona (Spain) over the period from July 2019 until October 2020. Case studies are first presented, followed by a statistical analysis. The stations are located in a hot spot between Africa and the rest of Europe, which guarantees a variety of aerosol types, from mineral dust layers to continental/anthropogenic aerosol, and allows us to test Aeolus performance under different scenarios. The so called Aeolus-like profiles () are obtained from total particle backscatter coefficient and linear particle depolarization ratio () profiles at 355 and 532 nm measured from the surface, through a thorough bibliographic review of dual-polarization measurements for relevant aerosol types. Finally, the study proposes a relation for the spectral conversion of , which is implemented in the Aeolus-like profile calculation. The statistical results show the ability of the satellite to detect and characterize significant aerosol layers under cloud-free conditions, along with the surface effect on the lowermost measurements, which causes the satellite to largely overestimate co-polar backscatter coefficients. Finally, the Aeolus standard correct algorithm middle bin (SCAmb) shows a better agreement with ground-based measurements than the standard correct algorithm (SCA), which tends to retrieve negative and meaningless coefficients in the clear troposphere. The implementation of Aeolus quality flags entails a vast reduction in the number of measurements available for comparison, which affects the statistical significance of the results.