Height-resolved air mass source attribution is crucial for the evaluation of profiling ground-based remote sensing observations, especially when using lidar (light detection and ranging) to investigate different aerosol types throughout the atmosphere. Lidar networks, such as EARLINET (European Aerosol Research Lidar Network) in the frame of ACTRIS (Aerosol, Clouds and Trace Gases), observe profiles of optical aerosol properties almost continuously, but usually, additional information is needed to support the characterization of the observed particles. This work presents an approach explaining how backward trajectories or particle positions from a dispersion model can be combined with geographical information (a land cover classification and manually defined areas) to obtain a continuous and vertically resolved estimate of an air mass source above a certain location. Ideally, such an estimate depends on as few as possible a priori information and auxiliary data. An automated framework for the computation of such an air mass source is presented, and two applications are described. First, the air mass source information is used for the interpretation of air mass sources for three case studies with lidar observations from Limassol (Cyprus), Punta Arenas (Chile) and ship-borne off Cabo Verde. Second, air mass source statistics are calculated for two multi-week campaigns to assess potential observation biases of lidar-based aerosol statistics. Such an automated approach is a valuable tool for the analysis of short-term campaigns but also for long-term data sets, for example, acquired by EARLINET.