EARLINET instrument intercomparison campaigns: Overview on strategy and results
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This paper introduces the recent European Aerosol Research Lidar Network (EARLINET) quality-assurance efforts at instrument level. Within two dedicated campaigns and five single-site intercomparison activities, 21 EARLINET systems from 18 EARLINET stations were intercompared between 2009 and 2013. A comprehensive strategy for campaign setup and data evaluation has been established. Eleven systems from nine EARLINET stations participated in the EARLINET Lidar Intercomparison 2009 (EARLI09). In this campaign, three reference systems were qualified which served as traveling standards thereafter. EARLINET systems from nine other stations have been compared against these reference systems since 2009. We present and discuss comparisons at signal and at product level from all campaigns for more than 100 individual measurement channels at the wavelengths of 355, 387, 532, and 607 nm. It is shown that in most cases, a very good agreement of the compared systems with the respective reference is obtained. Mean signal deviations in predefined height ranges are typically below ±2 %. Particle backscatter and extinction coefficients agree within ±2 × 10−4 km−1 sr−1 and ± 0.01 km−1, respectively, in most cases. For systems or channels that showed larger discrepancies, an in-depth analysis of deficiencies was performed and technical solutions and upgrades were proposed and realized. The intercomparisons have reinforced confidence in the EARLINET data quality and allowed us to draw conclusions on necessary system improvements for some instruments and to identify major challenges that need to be tackled in the future.