Projects per year
Layers of aerosol at heights between 2 and 11km were observed with Raman lidars in the UK between 23 and 31 May 2016. A network of these lidars, supported by ceilometer observations, is used to map the extent of the aerosol and its optical properties. Space-borne lidar profiles show that the aerosol originated from forest fires over western Canada around 17 May, and indeed the aerosol properties – weak volume depolarisation ( < 5%) and a lidar ratio at 355nm in the range 35–65sr – were consistent with long-range transport of forest fire smoke. The event was unusual in its persistence – the smoke plume was drawn into an atmospheric block that kept it above north-western Europe for 9 days. Lidar observations show how the smoke layers became optically thinner during this period, but the lidar ratio and aerosol depolarisation showed little change. The results demonstrate the value of a dense network of observations for tracking forest fire smoke, and show how the dispersion of smoke in the free troposphere leads to the emergence of discrete thin layers in the far field. They also show how atmospheric blocking can keep a smoke plume in the same geographic area for over a week.