Studying Atmospheric Air Quality with LiDAR 9/22/12

This is a repost from the now defunct Whatever-Weather.com website.

As I wrote about in my last blog post a few weeks ago, the traditional use of LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) in the Atmospheric Science community is to point it to the sky and work on studies about atmospheric air quality.

Figure 1: High Spectral Resolution LiDAR on right, multipulse LiDAR on left platform

From: http://blog.lidarnews.com/aerosol-lidar-in-action

There are many different groups who have LiDAR sensors pointed to the sky across the world.  Some of note based in the United States are ARM Climate Research Facility through the US Department of Energy (more ARM next time), MicroPulse LiDAR Network operated through NASA and part of the MicroPulse network is the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and their LiDAR sensors with their Smog Blog.

Across the board, LiDAR laser wavelengths are usually in the green or IR bands.  The LiDAR for Atmospheric air bands is in the green bands, around 523nm or 527nm.

The MPL network is worldwide.  Here is a graphic in all sites they have had from 2000-2012:

The LiDAR is looking upward and looking at the planetary boundary layer aerosol return.

Here is a recent dataset from a few days ago from the UMBC LiDAR station from their Smog Blog from March 15, 2012:

On their blog they interpreted haze up to 4km from fires across the southeast US.  It can clearly be seen on the time series plot.  This was determined by using other satellite and fire data from across the region to help interpret what the return is.

The UMBC also looks for low level jets with their LiDAR system.  This this example from September 28, 2008 you can see it around 0600Z – 1200Z.  They also show it in their nearby wind profiler.

These data with other sources of data from other sensors determine air quality levels on a daily basis.  I have posted links at the bottom of this post to sites I mentioned in this article.

I am going to adjust my previous schedule from my last blog post.  In my next blog post I am going to feature LiDAR with Climate Studies and then Snow Cover studies before moving onto building modeling with flooding and hurricane studies.

Sources:

MPL Instrument Discussion: http://mplnet.gsfc.nasa.gov/instruments.html

UMBC LiDAR Tutorial: http://alg.umbc.edu/usaq/archives/Lidar_20091015.pdf

UMBC Smog Blog: http://alg.umbc.edu/usaq/

UMBC Low Level Jet Examples: http://alg.umbc.edu/mdellj

(c) 2012 Charles Schoeneberger

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About Chuck Schoeneberger

Former forecaster at Meridian Environmental Technologies Inc (now a Interis Company), with a background in GIS and LiDAR, with other stints at GeoSpatial Services of Winona, MN and Aerometric (Now Quantum Spatial) of Sheboygan, WI. He is a weather technologist for public storm safety from a local to international level. LinkedIn Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=25048141&trk=tab_pro His views are his own and not of his employer.
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