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Wiegner, Matthias; Mattis, Ina; Pattantyus-Abraham, Margit; Antonio Bravo-Aranda, Juan; Poltera, Yann; Haefele, Alexander; Hervo, Maxime; Goersdorf, Ulrich; Leinweber, Ronny; Gasteiger, Josef; Haeffelin, Martial; Wagner, Frank; Cermak, Jan; Kominkova, Katerina; Brettle, Mike; Muenkel, Christoph; Poenitz, Kornelia (2019): Aerosol backscatter profiles from ceilometers: validation of water vapor correction in the framework of CeiLinEx2015. In: Atmospheric Measurement Techniques, Vol. 12, No. 1: pp. 471-490
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With the rapidly growing number of automated single-wavelength backscatter lidars (ceilometers), their potential benefit for aerosol remote sensing received considerable scientific attention. When studying the accuracy of retrieved particle backscatter coefficients, it must be considered that most of the ceilometers are influenced by water vapor absorption in the spectral range around 910 nm. In the literature methodologies have been proposed to correct for this effect;however, a validation was not yet performed. In the framework of the ceilometer intercomparison campaign CeiLinEx2015 in Lindenberg, Germany, hosted by the German Weather Service, it was possible to tackle this open issue. Ceilometers from Lufft (CHM15k and CHM15kx, operating at 1064 nm), from Vaisala (CL51 and CL31) and from Campbell Scientific (CS135), all operating at a wavelength of approximately 910 nm, were deployed together with a multi-wavelength research lidar (RALPH) that served as a reference. In this paper the validation of the water vapor correction is performed by comparing ceilometer backscatter signals with measurements of the reference system extrapolated to the water vapor regime. One inherent problem of the validation is the spectral extrapolation of particle optical properties. For this purpose AERONET measurements and inversions of RALPH signals were used. Another issue is that the vertical range where validation is possible is limited to the upper part of the mixing layer due to incomplete overlap and the generally low signal-to-noise ratio and signal artifacts above that layer. Our intercomparisons show that the water vapor correction leads to quite a good agreement between the extrapolated reference signal and the measurements in the case of CL51 ceilometers at one or more wavelengths in the specified range of the laser diode's emission. This ambiguity is due to the similar effective water vapor transmission at several wavelengths. In the case of CL31 and CS135 ceilometers the validation was not always successful. That suggests that error sources beyond the water vapor absorption might be dominant. For future applications we recommend monitoring the emitted wavelength and providing "dark" measurements on a regular basis.