Since 2000, regular lidar observations of the vertical aerosol distribution over Europe have been performed within the framework of EARLINET, the European Aerosol Research Lidar Network. A statistical analysis concerning the vertical distribution of the volume light extinction coefficients of particles derived from Raman lidar measurements at 10 EARLINET stations is presented here. The profiles were measured on a fixed schedule with up to two measurements per week; they typically covered the height range from 500 m to 6000 m above ground level (agl). The analysis is made for the planetary boundary layer (PBL) as well as for several fixed layers above ground. The results show typical values of the aerosol extinction coefficient and the aerosol optical depth (AOD) in different parts of Europe, with highest values in southeastern Europe and lowest values in the northwestern part. Annual cycles and cumulative frequency distributions are also presented. We found that higher aerosol optical depths in southern Europe compared to the northern part are mainly attributed to larger amounts of aerosol in higher altitudes. At 9 of the 10 sites the frequency distribution of the aerosol optical depth in the planetary boundary layer follows a lognormal distribution at the 95% significance level.
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