1Institute for Space Applications and Remote Sensing, National Observatory of Athens, Athens, 15236, Greece
2Laboratory of Atmospheric Physics, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece
3Norwegian Institute for Air Research, Kjeller, Norway
4Research and Development, Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
5Department of Meteorology and Climatology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece
Abstract. The influence of smoke on the aerosol loading in the free troposphere over Thessaloniki, Greece is examined in this paper. Ten cases during 2001–2005 were identified when very high aerosol optical depth values in the free troposphere were observed with a UV-Raman lidar. Particle dispersion modeling (FLEXPART) and satellite hot spot fire detection (ATSR) showed that these high free tropospheric aerosol optical depths are mainly attributed to the advection of smoke plumes from biomass burning regions over Thessaloniki. The biomass burning regions were found to extend across Russia in the latitudinal belt between 45° N–55° N, as well as in Eastern Europe (Baltic countries, Western Russia, Belarus, and the Ukraine). The highest frequency of agricultural fires occurred during the summer season (mainly in August). The data collected allowed the optical characterization of the smoke aerosols that arrived over Greece, where limited information has so far been available. Two-wavelength backscatter lidar measurements showed that the backscatter-related Ångström exponent ranged between 0.5 and 2.4 indicating a variety of particle sizes. UV-Raman lidar measurements showed that for smoke particles the extinction to backscatter ratios varied between 40 sr for small particles to 100 sr for large particles. Dispersion model estimations of the carbon monoxide tracer concentration profiles for smoke particles indicate that the variability of the optical parameters is a function of the age of the smoke plumes.