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A New Method for Determining Cloud Transmittance and Optical Depth Using the ARM Micropulsed Lidar

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  • 1 Atmospheric Science Department, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
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Abstract

Cirrus clouds play an important role in the climate through their optical and microphysical properties. The problem with measuring the optical properties of these clouds can be partially addressed by using lidar systems. The calibration of backscatter lidar systems, in particular, typically relies on the known molecular (Rayleigh) backscatter, which is a function of temperature, pressure, and chemical composition of the air. This paper presents an improved method for determining the cloud transmittance, and thus optical depth, derived from backscatter lidar measurements. A system of equations is developed in terms of a proposed metric that is required to possess a minima, and has a unique solution for the gain, offset, and transmittance. The new method is tested on a synthetic case as well as using data from two different lidar systems that operate at two different wavelengths. The method is applied to lidar data collected by the lidar operating at the central Pacific island of Nauru under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Cristian Mitrescu, Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1371. Email: cristian@atmos.colostate.edu

Abstract

Cirrus clouds play an important role in the climate through their optical and microphysical properties. The problem with measuring the optical properties of these clouds can be partially addressed by using lidar systems. The calibration of backscatter lidar systems, in particular, typically relies on the known molecular (Rayleigh) backscatter, which is a function of temperature, pressure, and chemical composition of the air. This paper presents an improved method for determining the cloud transmittance, and thus optical depth, derived from backscatter lidar measurements. A system of equations is developed in terms of a proposed metric that is required to possess a minima, and has a unique solution for the gain, offset, and transmittance. The new method is tested on a synthetic case as well as using data from two different lidar systems that operate at two different wavelengths. The method is applied to lidar data collected by the lidar operating at the central Pacific island of Nauru under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Cristian Mitrescu, Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1371. Email: cristian@atmos.colostate.edu

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