1Instituto de Pesquisas Energéticas e Nucleares, São Paulo, Brazil
2National Technical University of Athens, Athens, Greece
3Instituto de Fisica da Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
4Instituto de Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais, São José dos Campos, Brazil
5Instituto de Geofisica, Astronomia e Ciências Atmosféricas da Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
Abstract. A backscattering LIDAR system, the first of this kind in Brazil, has been set-up in a suburban area in the city of São Paulo (23° 33' S, 46° 44' W) to provide the vertical profile of the aerosol backscatter coefficient at 532 nm up to an altitude of 4–6 km above sea level (a.s.l.). The measurements have been carried out during the second half of the so-called Brazilian dry season, September and October 2001 and during the first half of the dry season in August and September 2002. The LIDAR data are presented and analysed in synergy with aerosol optical thickness (AOT) measurements obtained by a CIMEL sun-tracking photometer in the visible spectral region and with satellite measurements obtained by the MODIS sensor. This synergetic approach has been used, not only to validate the LIDAR data, but also to derive a typical value (45 sr) of the so-called extinction-to-backscatter ratio (LIDAR ratio) during the dry season. The satellite data analysis offers additional information on the spatial distribution of aerosols over Brazil including the determination of aerosol source regions over the country. The LIDAR data were also used to retrieve the Planetary Boundary Layer (PBL) height, aerosol layering and the structure of the lower troposphere over the city of São Paulo. These first LIDAR measurements over the city of São Paulo during the dry season showed a significant variability of the AOT in the lower troposphere (0.5–5 km) at 532 nm. It was also found that the aerosol load is maximized in the 1–3 km height region, although up to 3 km thick aerosol layers were also detected in the 2.5–5.5 km region in certain cases. Three-dimensional 96-hours air mass back-trajectory analysis was also performed in selected cases to determine the source regions of aerosols around São Paulo during the dry season.