Barnaba, F; Putaud, JP; Gruening, C; dell'Acqua, A; Dos Santos, S (2010). Annual cycle in co-located in situ, total-column, and height-resolved aerosol observations in the Po Valley (Italy): Implications for ground-level particulate matter mass concentration estimation from remote sensing. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-ATMOSPHERES, 115, D19209.
Remote sensing represents a prospective tool to complement in situ measurements for monitoring particulate matter air pollution. The remotely sensed aerosol metric which is generally related to the in situ measured particulate matter mass concentration (PM) is the aerosol optical thickness (AOT), the vertically integrated aerosol extinction that optically quantifies the aerosol load in the whole atmospheric column. Annual variations in AOT and PM can follow very different patterns, indicating that the AOT-to-PM conversion is not straightforward. In the Po Valley, northern Italy, AOT and PM seasonal cycles exhibit a marked phase shift. Making use of aerosol extinction vertical profiles derived from continuous aerosol lidar measurements, we further searched through the AOT-to-PM10 relationship in this region. On the basis of a 2-year (2006-2007) multisensor database, including remote sensing observations from ground and space and in situ measurements, this study: (1) discloses for the first time the height-resolved seasonal variability of the aerosol optical properties in the Po Valley, (2) demonstrates and quantifies the crucial role of the aerosol vertical distribution in the AOT-to-PM relationship in this region, (3) suggests a methodology to rescale AOT to ground-level aerosol extinction values that correlate with PM concentration and from which PM10 annual average and exceedances frequency of daily limit value can be retrieved within a few percentage points, and (4) highlights that the hygroscopic growth of the particles in the atmosphere is a critical factor for comparing in situ-measured to remotely sensed aerosol properties.