The influence of multiple scattering on the retrieval of extinction coefficients of tropospheric aerosols from ground-based backscatter lidar measurements is numerically modeled. In a first step, lidar returns are computed by means of a Monte Carlo code for model atmospheres with different aerosol types and different extinction coefficient profiles. In so doing, synthetic lidar signals with and without multiple scattering can be simulated. In a second step, both types of signal are inverted by the most frequently used analytical solution, which, however, is based on the single-scatter assumption. From a comparison of the results, the error of the retrieved aerosol-extinction profiles can be quantitatively determined. It was found that the contribution of multiply scattered photons to the lidar signals is typically below 10% and never exceeds 20%. The relative errors of the retrieved aerosol-extinction profile in the planetary boundary layer are still smaller; they were determined to be less than 3% for all aerosol types, even for extinction coefficients as large as 3.9 km-1. Thus, for ground-based lidar measurements and typical meteorological conditions, errors caused by neglecting multiple scattering are by far less significant than other errors in lidar data evaluation.
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