Air mass modification over the Europe: EARLINET aerosol observations from Wales to Belarus

Ulla Wandinger, Ina Mattis, Matthias Tesche, Albert Ansmann, Jens Bösenberg, Anatoly Chaikovski, Volker Freudenthaler, Leonce Komguem, Hoger Linné, Volker Matthias, Jacques Pelon, Laurent Sauvage, Piotr Sobolewski, Geraint Vaughan, Matthias Wiegner

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    29 Citations (Scopus)


    For the first time, the vertically resolved aerosol optical properties of western and central/eastern European haze are investigated as a function of air mass transport. Special emphasis is put on clean maritime air masses that cross the European continent from the west and become increasingly polluted on their way into the continent. The study is based on observations at seven lidar stations (Aberystwyth, Paris, Hamburg, Munich, Leipzig, Belsk, and Minsk) of the European Aerosol Research Lidar Network (EARLINET) and on backward trajectory analysis. For the first time, a lidar network monitored continent-scale haze air masses for several years (since 2000). Height profiles of the particle backscatter coefficient and the particle optical depth of the planetary boundary layer (PBL) at 355-nm wavelength are analyzed for the period from May 2000 to November 2002. From the observations at Aberystwyth, Wales, the aerosol reference profile for air entering Europe from pristine environments was determined. A mean 355-nm optical depth of 0.05 and a mean PBL height at 1.5 km was found for clean maritime summer conditions. The particle optical depth and PBL height increased with increasing distance from the North Atlantic. Mean summer PBL heights were 1.9-2.8 km at the continental sites of Leipzig, Belsk, and Minsk. Winter mean PBL heights were mostly between 0.7 and 1.3 km over the seven EARLINET site. Summer mean 355-nm optical depths increased from 0.17 (Hamburg, northwesterly airflow from the North Sea) and 0.21 (Paris, westerly flow from the Atlantic) over 0.33 (Hamburg, westerly flow) and 0.35 (Leipzig, westerly flow) to 0.59 (Belsk, westerly flow), and decreased again to 0.37 (westerly, flow) at Minsk. Winter mean optical depths were, on average, 10-30% lower than the respective summer values. PBL-mean extinction coefficients were of the order of 200 Mm-1 at 355 nm at Hamburg and Leipzig Germany, and close to 600 Mm-1 at Belsk, Poland, in winter for westerly flows. Whereas the optical depth for westerly flows was typically <0.35 during the summer halfyear, it increased to values of 0.5-0.7 over the most of the central European sites during easterly flows. Compared to aerosol sources in Poland and southeastern Europe, the highly industrialized and populated western European region was found to contribute only moderately to the European aerosol burden. Comparably clean conditions (low particle optical depth) prevailed at the Munich site, indicating a sensitive influence of the orography on haze conditions. Estimates of the mean effective (upward minus downward) aerosol mass flux into the atmosphere along the way from the Atlantic Ocean to central European (Leipzig), and from Leipzig to Belsk, that are consistent with the optical depth increase, yield values of 0.11-0.17 μg/(m2s) and 0.25 μg/(m2s), respectively. These values correspond to mean effective aerosol mass fluxes for 50 km × 50 km grid cells of the order of 10000 Mg/year and 20000 Mg /year, respectively. The estimates are in reasonable agreement with EMEP emission data.

    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
    Issue numberD24
    Publication statusPublished - 27 Dec 2004


    • Aerosol transport
    • Lidar network
    • Tropospheric aerosols


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