Four-dimensional distribution of the 2010 Eyjafjallajokull volcanic cloud over Europe observed by EARLINET

The eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull in April-May 2010 represents a "natural experiment" to study the impact of volcanic emissions on a continental scale. For the first time, quantitative data about the presence, altitude, and layering of the volcanic cloud, in conjunction with optical information, are available for most parts of Europe derived from the observations by the European Aerosol Research Lidar NETwork (EARLINET). Based on multi-wavelength Raman lidar systems, EARLINET is the only instrument worldwide that is able to provide dense time series of high-quality optical data to be used for aerosol typing and for the retrieval of particle microphysical properties as a function of altitude. In this work we show the four-dimensional (4-D) distribution of the Eyjafjallajokull volcanic cloud in the troposphere over Europe as observed by EARLINET during the entire volcanic event (15 April-26 May 2010). All optical properties directly measured (backscatter, extinction, and particle linear depolarization ratio) are stored in the EARLINET database available at A specific relational database providing the volcanic mask over Europe, realized ad hoc for this specific event, has been developed and is available on request at During the first days after the eruption, volcanic particles were detected over Central Europe within a wide range of altitudes, from the upper troposphere down to the local planetary boundary layer (PBL). After 19 April 2010, volcanic particles were detected over southern and south-eastern Europe. During the first half of May (5-15 May), material emitted by the Eyjafjallajokull volcano was detected over Spain and Portugal and then over the Mediterranean and the Balkans. The last observations of the event were recorded until 25 May in Central Europe and in the Eastern Mediterranean area. The 4-D distribution of volcanic aerosol layering and optical properties on European scale reported here provides an unprecedented data set for evaluating satellite data and aerosol dispersion models for this kind of volcanic events.

Published in:
Atmospheric Chemistry And Physics, 13, 8, 4429-4450
Gottingen, Copernicus Gesellschaft Mbh

 Record created 2013-10-01, last modified 2018-03-17

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