Technical note: Absorption aerosol optical depth components from AERONET observations of mixed dust plumes
Absorption aerosol optical depth (AAOD) as obtained from sun–sky photometer measurements provides a measure of the light-absorbing properties of the columnar aerosol loading. However, it is not an unambiguous aerosol-type-specific parameter, particularly if several types of absorbing aerosols, for instance black carbon (BC) and mineral dust, are present in a mixed aerosol plume. The contribution of mineral dust to total aerosol light absorption is particularly important at UV wavelengths. In this study we refine a lidar-based technique applied to the separation of dust and non-dust aerosol types for the use with Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET) direct sun and inversion products. We extend the methodology to retrieve AAOD related to non-dust aerosol (AAODnd) and BC (AAODBC). We test the method at selected AERONET sites that are frequently affected by aerosol plumes that contain a mixture of Saharan or Asian mineral dust and biomass-burning smoke or anthropogenic pollution, respectively. We find that aerosol optical depth (AOD) related to mineral dust as obtained with our methodology is frequently smaller than coarse-mode AOD. This suggests that the latter is not an ideal proxy for estimating the contribution of mineral dust to mixed dust plumes. We present the results of the AAODBC retrieval for the selected AERONET sites and compare them to coincident values provided in the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring System aerosol reanalysis.We find that modelled and AERONET AAODBC are most consistent for Asian sites or at Saharan sites with strong local anthropogenic sources.