EARLINET: the European aerosol
research lidar network
A coordinated network of advanced remote-sensing stations tracks,
measures, and characterizes atmospheric aerosol for use in climate and
Present knowledge concerning aerosols and their distribution
patterns in the earth’s atmosphere is far from adequate to prop-
erly assess their role in changing climate and environmental con-
ditions, both regionally and globally. Information about vertical
concentrations is particularly lacking. Lidar (light detection and
ranging) remote sensing is the most appropriate tool to close this
observational gap, and networks that deploy this technology are
fundamental to the scaled-up study of aerosol concentrations,
transport, and modification.1
work (EARLINET) currently comprises 25 stations and has as its
main objective the development of a qualitatively and quanti-
tatively significant database that details the horizontal, vertical,
and temporal distribution of atmospheric aerosol over the entire
continent (see Figure 1). Station observation capabilities vary.
EARLINET currently includes 10 single backscatter stations and
8 stations with a UV Raman channel for independent measure-
ments of aerosol extinction and backscatter. In addition, for re-
trieval of aerosol microphysical properties, 7 multiwavelength
Raman stations include elastic channels at 1064, 532, and 355nm,
with Raman channels at 532 and 355nm, and a depolarization
channel at 532nm.
Network-wide observations take place systematically on a
fixed schedule. For collection of unbiased data, all stations per-
form measurements three fixed days per week. Lidar surveil-
lance adheres to a regular timetable: once each week around
noon when the boundary layer is usually well developed, and
twice weekly at night under low background light conditions
in order to perform Raman extinction measurements. Other net-
work activities monitor special events such as Saharan dust out-
breaks (see Figure 2), forest fires, photochemical smog, and vol-
both instruments and evaluation algorithms,2–4and a standard-
Figure 1. Stations in the European Aerosol Research Lidar Network
ized data exchange format has been implemented. EARLINET
measurements, which began in May 2000, represent the largest
database for the aerosol distribution on a continental scale in the
The EARLINET Advanced Sustainable Observation System
(ASOS), a project inaugurated in 2006 and funded under the
European Commission’s Sixth Framework Programme, will fur-
ther improve observations and methodological developments
urgently needed for the multiyear, continental-scale data set
that is required to assess the impact of aerosols on the Eu-
ropean and global environment, and to support future satel-
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10.1117/2.1200809.1265 Page 2/3
Figure 2. Saharan dust observed at altitudes up to 9km via the Potenza
EARLINET station on 26 June 2006.
lite missions. EARLINET data has been already used to make
the first climatological studies of aerosol optical properties over
Europe.5The data set has also helped evaluate long-range trans-
port and to investigate the implications of dust in weather fore-
cast modeling.6–8Retrieval algorithms for aerosol microphysi-
cal properties have been developed and extensively tested with
both synthetic and natural multiwavelength lidar data.9
In addition, EARLINET represents the best available tool for
validation and exploitation of data from the Cloud-Aerosol Li-
dar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO)
mission. In particular, extinction and lidar ratio measurements10
will be important for aerosol retrievals from the backscatter
Cloud-Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP)
that rides on board CALIPSO. Since CALIOP began operating
in June 2006, EARLINET has made approximately 2000 correl-
ative measurements. Initial comparisons between EARLINET
and CALIPSO level 1 data show considerable promise for space-
borne lidar investigation of aerosols and clouds.11
In cooperation with a number of networks distributed world-
wide, EARLINET is also making a significant contribution to-
ward implementation of the Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW)
Atmospheric Lidar Observation Network (GALION). Other par-
ticipating networks include the Molecular Pathology Laboratory
Network (MPLNET), the Asian Lidar Network (ALN), the Com-
monwealth of Independent States Lidar Network (CIS-LINET),
Americas Lidar Network (ALINE).
EARLINET will also contribute to future satellite mis-
sions with lidar instrumentations aboard, such as Atmospheric
Dynamics Mission (ADM)-Aeolus and the joint European-
Japanese mission EarthCARE. The multiwavelength EAR-
LINET data represents validation for these missions and
provides the conversion factors that allow aerosol data at
532 and 1064nm from CALIPSO to link with data at 355nm from
ADM-Aeolus and EarthCARE, with a view to creating a consis-
tent long-term global data set.
In brief, climatological measurements and analysis continue
within EARLINET, in consonance with the aim of developing
the most comprehensive data source for 4D spatiotemporal dis-
tribution of aerosols on a continental scale.
Financial support by the European Commission under grant RICA-
025991 is gratefully acknowledged.
CNR - Istituto di Metodologie per l’Analisi Ambientale
Tito Scalo, Italy
Gelsomina Pappalardo is a physicist whose main research inter-
ests include lidar remote sensing of aerosols, clouds, and water
vapor. She is the EARLINET speaker and coordinator of the EC
FP6 EARLINET-ASOS project.12
1. U. Wandinger, I. Mattis, M. Tesche, A. Ansmann, J. B¨ osenberg, A. Chaikovski,
V. Freudenthaler, L. Komguem, H. Linn´ e, V. Matthias, J. Pelon, L. Sauvage,
P. Sobolewski, G. Vaughan, and M. Wiegner, Air-mass modification over Europe: EAR-
LINET aerosol observations from Wales to Belarus, J. Geophys. Res. 109, p. D24205,
2. V. Matthias, J. B¨ osenberg, V. Freudenthaler, A. Amodeo, D. Balis, A. Chaikovsky,
G. Chourdakis, A. Comeron, A. Delaval, F. de Tomasi, R. Eixmann, A. H˚ ag˚ ard, L.
Komguem, S. Kreipl, R. Matthey, I. Mattis, V. Rizi, J. A. Rodriguez, V. Simeonov,
and X. Wang, Aerosol lidar intercomparison in the framework of the EARLINET project.
1. Instruments, Appl. Opt. 43 (12), pp. 2578–2579, 2004. doi:10.1364/AO.43.002578
3. C. B¨ ockmann, U. Wandinger, A. Ansmann, J. B¨ osenberg, V. Amiridis, A.
Boselli, A. Delaval, F. De Tomasi, M. Frioud, A. H˚ ag˚ ard, M. Horvat, M. Iar-
lori, L. Komguem, S. Kreipl, G. Larchevˆ eque, V. Matthias, A. Papayannis, G.
Pappalardo, F. Rocadembosch, J. A. Rodriguez, J. Schneider, V. Shcherbakov,
and M. Wiegner, Aerosol lidar intercomparison in the framework of the EARLINET
project. 2. Aerosol backscatter algorithms, Appl. Opt. 43 (4), pp. 977–989, 2004.
4. G. Pappalardo, A. Amodeo, M. Pandolfi, U. Wandinger, A. Ansmann, J.
B¨ osenberg, V. Matthias, V. Amiridis, F. De Tomasi, M. Frioud, M. Iarlori, L.
Komguem, A. Papayannis, F. Rocadenbosch, and X. Wang, Aerosol lidar inter-
comparison in the framework of the EARLINET project. 3. Raman lidar algorithm for
aerosol extinction, backscatter, and Lidar ratio, Appl. Opt. 43 (28), pp. 5370–5385, 2004.
5. V. Matthias, D. Balis, J. B¨ osenberg, R. Eixmann, M. Iarlori, L. Komguem, I. Mat-
tis, A. Papayannis, G. Pappalardo, M. R. Perrone, and X. Wang, The vertical aerosol
distribution over Europe: statistical analysis of Raman lidar data from 10 EARLINET sta-
tions, J. Geophys. Res. 109, p. D18201, 2004. doi:10.1029/2004JD004638
Continued on next page
10.1117/2.1200809.1265 Page 3/3
6. D. M¨ uller, I. Mattis, U. Wandinger, A. Ansmann, D. Althausen, and A. Stohl,
Raman lidar observations of aged Siberian and Canadian forest fire smoke in the free tro-
posphereover Germanyin 2003:microphysicalparticle characterization,J.Geophys. Res.
110, p. D17201, 2005. doi:10.1029/2004JD005756
7. G. Pappalardo, A. Amodeo, L. Mona, M. Pandolfi, N. Pergola, and V. Cuomo,
Raman lidar observations of aerosol emitted during the 2002 Etna eruption, Geophys.
Res. Lett. 31, p. L05120, 2004. doi:10.1029/2003GL019073
8. A. Papayannis, V. Amiridis, L. Mona, G. Tsaknakis, D. Balis, J. B¨ osenberg, A.
Chaikovski, F. De Tomasi, I. Grigorov, I. Mattis, V. Mitev, D. M¨ uller, S. Nickovic, C.
P´ erez, A. Pietruczuk, G. Pisani, F. Ravetta, V. Rizi, M. Sicard, T. Trickl, M. Wiegner,
M. Gerding, R. E. Mamouri, G. D’Amico, and G. Pappalardo, Systematic lidar obser-
Res. 113, p. D10204, 2008. doi:10.1029/2007JD009028
9. C. B¨ ockmann, I. Mironova, D. M¨ uller, L. Schneidenbach, and R. Nessler, Micro-
physical aerosol parameters from multiwavelength lidar, J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 22, pp. 518–
528, 2005. doi:10.1364/JOSAA.22.000518
10. D. M¨ uller, A. Ansmann, I. Mattis, M. Tesche, U. Wandinger, D. Althausen, and
G. Pisani, Aerosol-type-dependent lidar ratios observed with Raman lidar, J. Geophys.
Res. 112, p. D16202, 2007. doi:10.1029/2006JD008292
11. I. Mattis, L. Mona, D. Muller, G. Pappalardo, L. Alados Arboledas, G.
D’Amico, A. Amodeo, A. Apituley, J. M. Baldasano, C. Bockmann, J. Bosenberg,
A. Chaikovsky, A. Comeron, E. Giannakaki, I. Grigorov, J. L. Guerrero Rascado, O.
Gustafsson, M. Iarlori, H. Linne, V. Mitev, F. M. Menendez, D. Nicolae, A. Papayan-
nis, C. P. Garcia-Pando, M. R. Perrone, A. Pietruczuk, J. P. Putaud, F. Ravetta, A.
Rodrıguez, P. Seifert, M. Sicard, V. Simeonov, P. Sobolewski, N. Spinelli, K. Stebel,
A. Stohl, M. Tesche, T. Trickl, X. Wang, and M. Wiegner, EARLINET correlative mea-
surements for CALIPSO, Proc. SPIE 6750, p. 67500Z, 2007. doi:10.1117/12.738090
12. http://www.earlinet.org EARLINET home page. Accessed 24 September 2008.
c ? 2008 SPIE