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Thierry Leblanc, I. Stuart McDermid, and Robin A. Aspey


A new water vapor Raman lidar was recently built at the Table Mountain Facility (TMF) of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California and more than a year of routine 2-h-long nighttime measurements 4–5 times per week have been completed. The lidar was designed to reach accuracies better than 5% anywhere up to 12-km altitude, and with the capability to measure water vapor mixing ratios as low as 1 to 10 ppmv near the tropopause and in the lower stratosphere. The current system is not yet fully optimized but has already shown promising results as water vapor profiles have been retrieved up to 18-km altitude. Comparisons with Vaisala RS92K radiosondes exhibit very good agreement up to at least 10 km. They also revealed a wet bias in the lidar profiles (or a dry bias in the radiosonde profiles), increasing with altitude and becoming significant near 10 km and large when approaching the tropopause. This bias cannot be explained solely by well-known too-dry measurements of the RS92K in the upper troposphere and therefore must partly originate in the lidar measurements. Excess signal due to residual fluorescence in the lidar receiver components is among the most likely candidates and is subject to ongoing investigation.

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