1Goddard Earth Sciences Technology and Research, Universities Space Research Association, Columbia, MD 21044, USA
2NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
3Joint Center for Earth System Technology, University of Maryland at Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD 21228, USA
4Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Ms 180–401, Pasadena, CA 91109, USA
5Department of Physics, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931, USA
Abstract. We use CALIOP nighttime measurements of lidar backscatter, color and depolarization ratios, as well as particulate retrievals during the summer of 2007 to study transatlantic dust properties downwind of Saharan sources, and to examine the influence of nearby clouds on dust. Our analysis suggests that (1) under clear skies, while lidar backscatter and color ratio do not change much with altitude and longitude in the Saharan Air Layer (SAL), depolarization ratio increases with altitude and decreases westward in the SAL; (2) the vertical lapse rate of dust depolarization ratio, introduced here, increases within SAL as plumes move westward; (3) nearby clouds barely affect the backscatter and color ratio of dust volumes within SAL but not so below SAL. Moreover, the presence of nearby clouds tends to decrease the depolarization of dust volumes within SAL. Finally, (4) the odds of CALIOP finding dust below SAL next to clouds are about ⅔ of those far away from clouds. This feature, together with an apparent increase in depolarization ratio near clouds, indicates that particles in some dust volumes loose asphericity in the humid air near clouds, and cannot be identified by CALIPSO as dust.