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H. Luce, T. Takai, T. Nakamura, M. Yamamoto, and S. Fukao

Abstract

Humidity is, among other things, a key parameter in the evolution of atmospheric dynamics and in the formation of clouds and precipitation through latent heat release. The continuous observation of its vertical distribution is thus important in meteorology. In the absence of convection, humidity in the lower troposphere is distributed into nearly horizontally stratified layers. The thin humidity gradients at the edges of these layers are known to be the main cause of very high-frequency (VHF) stratosphere–troposphere (ST) radar backscatter in the lower troposphere. This property has been experimentally demonstrated many times in the literature from comparisons between balloon measurements and low-resolution radar observations. In the present work, original results of comparisons between Raman lidar measurements of water vapor and middle- and upper-atmosphere (MU) radar measurements of echo power using a range-imaging technique are shown at high spatial and temporal resolutions (∼50 m, ∼20 s). Other tremendous advantages of such comparisons are the simultaneity, time continuity, and colocalization of the lidar and radar measurements. The results show that the radar can be used for continuously monitoring the thin positive and negative gradients of humidity when operated in range-imaging mode. With additional information from balloon measurements, it would be possible to retrieve humidity profiles in the lower troposphere at an unprecedented vertical and time resolution.

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