Extreme levels of Canadian wildfire smoke in the stratosphere over central Europe on 21-22 August 2017

Albert Ansmann, Holger Baars, Alexandra Chudnovsky, Ina Mattis, Igor Veselovskii, Moritz Haarig, Patric Seifert, Ronny Engelmann, Ulla Wandinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Light extinction coefficients of 500Mm1, about 20 times higher than after the Pinatubo volcanic eruptions in 1991, were observed by European Aerosol Research Lidar Network (EARLINET) lidars in the stratosphere over central Europe on 21-22 August 2017. Pronounced smoke layers with a 1-2 km vertical extent were found 2-5 km above the local tropopause. Optically dense layers of Canadian wildfire smoke reached central Europe 10 days after their injection into the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere which was caused by rather strong pyrocumulonimbus activity over western Canada. The smoke-related aerosol optical thickness (AOT) identified by lidar was close to 1.0 at 532 nm over Leipzig during the noon hours on 22 August 2017. Smoke particles were found throughout the free troposphere (AOT of 0.3) and in the pronounced 2 km thick stratospheric smoke layer at an altitude of 14-16 km (AOT of 0.6). The lidar observations indicated peak mass concentrations of 70-100 μgm-3 in the stratosphere. In addition to the lidar profiles, we analyzed Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) fire radiative power (FRP) over Canada, and the distribution of MODIS AOT and Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) aerosol index across the North Atlantic. These instruments showed a similar pattern and a clear link between the western Canadian fires and the aerosol load over Europe. In this paper, we also present Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET) sun photometer observations, compare photometer and lidar-derived AOT, and discuss an obvious bias (the smoke AOT is too low) in the photometer observations. Finally, we compare the strength of this recordbreaking smoke event (in terms of the particle extinction coefficient and AOT) with major and moderate volcanic events observed over the northern midlatitudes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11831-11845
Number of pages15
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Volume18
Issue number16
DOIs
StatePublished - 20 Aug 2018

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