EARLINET, the European Aerosol Research Lidar Network, is the first aerosol lidar network, established in 2000, with the main goal to provide a comprehensive, quantitative, and statistically significant data base for the aerosol distribution on a continental scale.
Aerosols affect life on earth in several ways. They play an important role in the climate system; the effect of aerosols on the global climate system is one of the major uncertainties of present climate predictions. They play a major role in atmospheric chemistry and hence affect the concentrations of other potentially harmful atmospheric constituents, e.g. ozone. They are an important controlling factor for the radiation budget, in particular in the UV-B part of the spectrum. At ground level, they can be harmful, even toxic, to man, animals, and plants. Because of these adverse effects that aerosols can have on human life, it is necessary to achieve an advanced understanding of the processes that generate, redistribute, and remove aerosols in the atmosphere.
A quantitative dataset describing the aerosol vertical, horizontal, and temporal distribution, including its variability on a continental scale, is necessary. The dataset is used to validate and improve models that predict the future state of the atmosphere and its dependence on different scenarios describing economic development, including those actions taken to preserve the quality of the environment. The EARLINET data set is the most comprehensive compilation of data available for this purpose.
EARLINET will continue to build a quantitative comprehensive statistical database of the horizontal, vertical, and temporal distribution of aerosols on a continental scale. The goal is to provide aerosol data with unbiased sampling, for important selected processes, and air-mass history, together with comprehensive analyses of these data. The objectives will be reached by operating a network of presently 15 stations distributed over most of Europe, using advanced quantitative laser remote sensing to directly measure the vertical distribution of aerosols, supported by a suite of more conventional observations. Special care is taken to assure data quality, including intercomparisons at instrument and evaluation levels. A major part of the measurements is performed according to a fixed schedule to provide an unbiased statistically significant data set. Additional measurements are performed to specifically address important processes that are localised either in space or time. Back-trajectories derived from operational weather prediction models are used to characterise the history of the observed air parcels, accounting explicitly for the vertical distribution.
EARLINET is a contributing network to the GAW Programme.
EARLINET is currently supported by the EU FP7 Project ACTRIS (1 April 2011 - 31 March 2015)
At present, 27 stations distributed over Europe are part of the network.
High resolution maps can be downloaded from the download section.