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William H. Hunt, David M. Winker, Mark A. Vaughan, Kathleen A. Powell, Patricia L. Lucker, and Carl Weimer

Abstract

This paper provides background material for a collection of Cloud–Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP) algorithm papers that are to be published in the Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology. It provides a brief description of the design and performance of CALIOP, a three-channel elastic backscatter lidar on the Cloud–Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) satellite. After more than 2 yr of on-orbit operation, CALIOP performance continues to be excellent in the key areas of laser energy, signal-to-noise ratio, polarization sensitivity, and overall long-term stability, and the instrument continues to produce high-quality data products. There are, however, some areas where performance has been less than ideal. These include short-term changes in the calibration coefficients at both wavelengths as the satellite passes between dark and sunlight, some radiation-induced effects on both the detectors and the laser when passing through the South Atlantic Anomaly, and slow transient recovery on the 532-nm channels. Although these issues require some special treatment in data analysis, they do not seriously detract from the overall quality of the level 2 data products.

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