MicroPulse DIAL (MPD) – a diode-laser-based lidar architecture for quantitative atmospheric profiling
Spuler, Scott M.
Stillwell, Robert A.
Repasky, Kevin S.
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Continuous water vapor and temperature profiles are critically needed for improved understanding of the lower atmosphere and potential advances in weather forecasting skill. Ground-based, national-scale profiling networks are part of a suite of instruments to provide such observations; however, the technological method must be cost-effective and quantitative. We have been developing an active remote sensing technology based on a diode-laser-based lidar technology to address this observational need. Narrowband, high-spectral-fidelity diode lasers enable accurate and calibration-free measurements requiring a minimal set of assumptions based on direct absorption (Beer–Lambert law) and a ratio of two signals. These well-proven quantitative methods are known as differential absorption lidar (DIAL) and high-spectral-resolution lidar (HSRL). This diode-laser-based architecture, characterized by less powerful laser transmitters than those historically used for atmospheric studies, can be made eye-safe and robust. Nevertheless, it also requires solar background suppression techniques such as narrow-field-of-view receivers with an ultra-narrow bandpass to observe individual photons backscattered from the atmosphere. We discuss this diode-laser-based lidar architecture's latest generation and analyze how it addresses a national-scale profiling network's need to provide continuous thermodynamic observations. The work presented focuses on general architecture changes that pertain to both the water vapor and the temperature profiling capabilities of the MicroPulse DIAL (MPD). However, the specific subcomponent testing and instrument validation presented are for the water vapor measurements only. A fiber-coupled seed laser transmitter optimization is performed and shown to meet all of the requirements for the DIAL technique. Further improvements – such as a fiber-coupled near-range receiver, the ability to perform quality control via automatic receiver scanning, advanced multi-channel scalar capabilities, and advanced processing techniques – are discussed. These new developments increase narrowband DIAL technology readiness and are shown to allow higher-quality water vapor measurements closer to the surface via preliminary intercomparisons within the MPD network itself and with radiosondes.
Spuler, S. M., Hayman, M., Stillwell, R. A., Carnes, J., Bernatsky, T., & Repasky, K. S. (2021). MicroPulse DIAL (MPD)–a diode-laser-based lidar architecture for quantitative atmospheric profiling. Atmospheric Measurement Techniques, 14(6), 4593-4616.