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Airborne remote sensing of tropospheric water vapor with a near–infrared differential absorption lidar system

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Abstract

A near-infrared airborne differential absorption lidar (DIAL) system has become operational. Horizontal and vertical water vapor profiles of the troposphere during summer (nighttime) conditions extending from the top of the planetary boundary layer (PBL) up to near the tropopause are investigated. These measurements have been performed in Southern Bavaria, Germany. The system design, the frequency control units, and an estimation of the laser line profile of the narrow-band dye laser are discussed. Effective absorption cross sections in terms of altitude are calculated. Statistical and systematic errors of the water vapor measurements are evaluated as a function of altitude. The effect of a systematic range-dependent error caused by molecular absorption is investigated by comparing the DIAL data with in situ measurements. Typical horizontal resolutions range from 4 km in the lower troposphere to 11 km in the upper troposphere, with vertical resolutions varying from 0.3 to 1 km, respectively. The lower limit of the sensitivity of the water vapor mixing ratio is calculated to be 0.01 g/kg. The total errors of these measurements range between 8% and 25%. A sine-shaped wave structure with a wavelength of 14 km and an amplitude of 20% of its mean value, detected in the lower troposphere, indicates an atmospheric gravity wave field.

© 1993 Optical Society of America

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