An intercomparison of the algorithms used to retrieve aerosol extinction and backscatter starting from Raman lidar signals has been performed by 11 groups of lidar scientists involved in the European Aerosol Research Lidar Network (EARLINET). This intercomparison is part of an extended quality assurance program performed on aerosol lidars in the EARLINET. Lidar instruments and aerosol backscatter algorithms were tested separately. The Raman lidar algorithms were tested by use of synthetic lidar data, simulated at 355, 532, 386, and 607 nm, with realistic experimental and atmospheric conditions taken into account. The intercomparison demonstrates that the data-handling procedures used by all the lidar groups provide satisfactory results. Extinction profiles show mean deviations from the correct solution within 10% in the planetary boundary layer (PBL), and backscatter profiles, retrieved by use of algorithms based on the combined Raman elastic-backscatter lidar technique, show mean deviations from solutions within 20% up to 2 km. The intercomparison was also carried out for the lidar ratio and produced profiles that show a mean deviation from the solution within 20% in the PBL. The mean value of this parameter was also calculated within a lofted aerosol layer at higher altitudes that is representative of typical layers related to special events such as Saharan dust outbreaks, forest fires, and volcanic eruptions. Here deviations were within 15%.
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