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EARLINET climatological lidar observations are performed on a regular schedule of one daytime measurement per week around noon (on Monday), when the boundary layer is usually well developed, and two night-time measurements per week (on Monday and Thursday), with low background light, in order to perform Raman extinction measurements. This regular schedule for observations minimizes the bias in the dataset possibly related to specific measurement conditions. The resulting dataset is used to obtain unbiased data for climatological studies. This dataset contains profiles of aerosol extinction, backscatter and lidar ratio. Several aerosol extinction/backscatter datasets can be present for the same climatological measurement in order to provide profiles either with a better temporal resolution or with an extended height range by using a larger temporal average. This is by far the largest dataset on the aerosol vertical distribution, and it is the only one which is collected systematically and is covering a whole continent.
This collection contains all measurements that have been performed in the frame of the EARLINET project during the period April 2000 - December 2010. Some of these measurements are also part of the collections 'Calipso', 'Climatology', 'SaharanDust' or 'VolcanicEruption'. In addition this collection also contains measurements from the categories 'Cirrus', 'DiurnalCycles', 'ForrestFires', 'Photosmog', 'RuralUrban', and 'Stratosphere'. This collection also contains measurements not devoted to any of the above categories. More information about these categories and the contributing stations can be found in the file 'EARLINET_general_introduction.pdf' accompanying this dataset.
Aerosols originating from volcanic emissions have an impact on the climate: sulfate and ash particles from volcanic emissions reflect solar radiation, act as cloud condensation and ice nuclei, and modify the radiative properties and lifetime of clouds, and therefore influence the precipitation cycle. These volcanic particles can also have an impact on environmental conditions and could be very dangerous for aircraft in flight. In addition to the routine measurements, further EARLINET observations are devoted to monitor volcano eruptions. The EARLINET volcanic dataset includes extended observations related to two different volcanoes in Europe Mt. Etna (2001 and 2002 eruptions), and the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland (April - May 2010 eruption). This dataset includes also recent events of volcanic eruptions in the North Pacific region (2008-2010) that emitted sulfuric acid droplets into the upper troposphere - lower stratosphere (UTLS) height region of the northern hemisphere. The EARLINET volcanic observations in the UTLS are complemented by the long-term stratospheric aerosol observations collected in the Stratosphere category.
The geographical distribution of the EARLINET stations is particularly suitable for dust observation, with stations located all around the Mediterranean (from the Iberian Peninsula in the West to the Greece and Bulgaria and Romania in the East) and in the center of the Mediterranean (Italian stations) where dust intrusions are frequent, and with several stations in the central Europe where dust penetrates occasionally. A suitable observing methodology has been established within the network, based on Saharan dust alerts distributed to all EARLINET stations. The dust alert is based on the operational outputs (aerosol dust load) of the DREAM (Dust REgional Atmospheric Model), and the Skiron models. The alerts are diffused 24 to 36 hours prior to the arrival of dust aerosols over the EARLINET sites. Runs of measurements longer than 3-hour observations, typical for the EARLINET climatological measurements are performed at the EARLINET stations in order to investigate the temporal evolution of the dust events. All aerosol backscatter and extinction profiles related to observations of Saharan dust layers are collected in the "Saharan dust" category of the EARLINET database.
Since the beginning of CALIPSO observations in June 2006 EARLINET has performed correlative measurements during nearby overpasses of the satellite at individual stations following a dedicated observational strategy. The EARLINET-CALIPSO correlative measurement plan considers the criteria established in the CALIPSO validation plan (http://calipsovalidation.hamptonu.edu). Participating EARLINET stations perform measurements, as close in time as possible and for a period of at least 30 min up to several hours, when CALIPSO overpasses their location within a horizontal radius of 100 km. Within the 16-day observational cycle of CALIPSO each station is overpassed within this distance 1-2 times during daytime (typically between 1100 and 1400 UTC) and 1-2 times during night time (typically between 0000 and 0300 UTC). Additional measurements are performed, mainly on a non-regular basis, when CALIPSO overpasses a neighboring station in order to study the horizontal variability of the aerosol distribution. The time schedule for correlative observations is calculated starting from the high-resolution ground-track data provided by NASA, and is updated and distributed to whole network weekly. The EARLINET-CALIPSO correlative dataset represents a statistically significant data set to be used for the validation and full exploitation of the CALIPSO mission, for studying the representativeness of cross sections along an orbit against network observations on a continental scale, and for supporting the continuous, harmonized observation of aerosol and clouds with remote-sensing techniques from space over long time periods.