1Department of Physics, National Technical University of Athens, Greece
2Laboratory of Atmospheric Physics, Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, Greece
3Department of Geology, University of Athens, Greece
4Department of Physics, University of São Paulo, Brazil
5Euro-Mediterranean Center on Insular Coastal Dynamics, University of Malta, Malta
6Department of Physics, Technical University of Poznan, Poland
*now at: Raymetrics S.A., Glyka Nera, Attika, Greece
Abstract. We report on the vertical distributions of Saharan dust aerosols over the N.E. Mediterranean region, which were obtained during a typical dust outbreak on August 2000, by two lidar systems located in Athens and Thessaloniki, Greece, in the frame of the European EARLINET project. MODIS and ground sun spectrophotometric data, as well as air-mass backward trajectories confirmed the existence of Saharan dust in the case examined, which was also successfully forecasted by the DREAM dust model. The lidar data analysis for the period 2000–2002 made possible, for the first time, an estimation of the vertical extent of free tropospheric dust layers (mean values of the aerosol backscatter and extinction coefficients and the extinction-to-backscatter ratio (lidar ratio, LR) at 355 nm), as well as a seasonal distribution of Saharan dust outbreaks over Greece, under cloud-free conditions. A mean value of the lidar ratio at 355 nm was obtained over Athens (52.81±1.02 sr) and over Thessaloniki (44.19±1.72 sr) during the Saharan dust outbreaks. The corresponding aerosol optical thickness (AOT) at 355 nm, in the altitude range 0–5 km, was 0.69±0.12 and 0.65±0.10 for Athens and Thessaloniki, respectively (within the dust layer the AOT was 0.23 and 0.21, respectively). Air-mass back-trajectory analysis performed in the period 2000–2002 for all Saharan dust outbreaks over the N. E. Mediterranean indicated the main pathways followed by the dust aerosols.