Differential absorption lidar measurements of water vapor by the High Altitude...

Carroll, B. J., A. R. Nehrir, S. A. Kooi, J. E. Collins, R. Barton-Grimley, A. Notari, D. Harper, and J. Lee (2022), Differential absorption lidar measurements of water vapor by the High Altitude Lidar Observatory (HALO): retrieval framework and first results, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 15, 605-626, doi:10.5194/amt-15-605-2022.

Airborne differential absorption lidar (DIAL) offers a uniquely capable solution to the problem of measuring water vapor (WV) with high precision, accuracy, and resolution throughout the troposphere and lower stratosphere. The High Altitude Lidar Observatory (HALO) airborne WV DIAL was recently developed at NASA Langley Research Center and was first deployed in 2019. It uses four wavelengths near 935 nm to achieve sensitivity over a wide dynamic range and simultaneously employs 1064 nm backscatter and 532 nm high-spectral-resolution lidar (HSRL) measurements for aerosol and cloud profiling. A key component of the WV retrieval framework is flexibly trading resolution for precision to achieve optimal datasets for scientific objectives across scales. An approach to retrieving WV in the lowest few hundred meters of the atmosphere using the strong surface return signal is also presented.

The five maiden flights of the HALO WV DIAL spanned the tropics through midlatitudes with a wide range of atmospheric conditions, but opportunities for validation were sparse. Comparisons to dropsonde WV profiles were qualitatively in good agreement, though statistical analysis was impossible due to systematic error in the dropsonde measurements. Comparison of HALO to in situ WV measurements aboard the aircraft showed no substantial bias across 3 orders of magnitude, despite variance (R^2 = 0.66) that may be largely attributed to spatiotemporal variability. Precipitable water vapor measurements from the spaceborne sounders AIRS and IASI compared very well to HALO with R^2 > 0.96 over ocean.

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Research Program: 
Atmospheric Composition
Energy & Water Cycle Program (EWCP)
Atmospheric Dynamics and Precipitation Program (ADP)