1Institute for Astronomy, Astrophysics, Space Applications and Remote Sensing, National Observatory of Athens, Athens, 15236, Greece
2Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS), Leipzig, Germany
3Finnish Meteorological Institute, Kuopio Unit, Finland
4Barcelona Supercomputing Center, Barcelona, Spain
5Institute of Environmental Research and Sustainable Development, National Observatory of Athens, Athens, Greece
6Laboratory of Meteorology, Department of Physics, University of Ioannina, Ioannina, Greece
7Environmental Modelling Laboratory, Technical University of Catalonia, Barcelona, Spain
Abstract. We demonstrate improvements in CALIPSO (Cloud–Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations) dust extinction retrievals over northern Africa and Europe when corrections are applied regarding the Saharan dust lidar ratio assumption, the separation of the dust portion in detected dust mixtures, and the averaging scheme introduced in the Level 3 CALIPSO product. First, a universal, spatially constant lidar ratio of 58 sr instead of 40 sr is applied to individual Level 2 dust-related backscatter products. The resulting aerosol optical depths show an improvement compared with synchronous and collocated AERONET (Aerosol Robotic Network) measurements. An absolute bias of the order of −0.03 has been found, improving on the statistically significant biases of the order of −0.10 reported in the literature for the original CALIPSO product. When compared with the MODIS (Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) collocated aerosol optical depth (AOD) product, the CALIPSO negative bias is even less for the lidar ratio of 58 sr. After introducing the new lidar ratio for the domain studied, we examine potential improvements to the climatological CALIPSO Level 3 extinction product: (1) by introducing a new methodology for the calculation of pure dust extinction from dust mixtures and (2) by applying an averaging scheme that includes zero extinction values for the nondust aerosol types detected. The scheme is applied at a horizontal spatial resolution of 1° × 1° for ease of comparison with the instantaneous and collocated dust extinction profiles simulated by the BSC-DREAM8b dust model. Comparisons show that the extinction profiles retrieved with the proposed methodology reproduce the well-known model biases per subregion examined. The very good agreement of the proposed CALIPSO extinction product with respect to AERONET, MODIS and the BSC-DREAM8b dust model makes this dataset an ideal candidate for the provision of an accurate and robust multiyear dust climatology over northern Africa and Europe.