High Spectral Resolution Lidar (HSRL)


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HSRL deployed in NASA Langley King Air B200

The NASA Langley airborne High Spectral Resolution Lidar (HSRL) is used to characterize clouds and small particles in the atmosphere, called aerosols. From an airborne platform, the HSRL scientist team studies aerosol size, composition, distribution and movement.

The HSRL instrument is an innovative technology that is similar to radar; however, with lidar, radio waves are replaced with laser light. Lidar allows researchers to see the vertical dimension of the atmosphere, and the advanced HSRL makes measurements that can even distinguish among different aerosol types and their sources. The HSRL technique takes advantage of the spectral distribution of the lidar return signal to discriminate aerosol and molecular signals and thereby measure aerosol extinction and backscatter independently.

The HSRL provides measurements of aerosol extinction at 532 nm and aerosol backscatter and depolarization at 532 and 1064 nm. The HSRL measurements of aerosol extinction, backscattering, and depolarization profiles are being used to:

1) characterize the spatial and vertical distributions of aerosols
2) quantify aerosol extinction and optical thickness contributed by various aerosol types
3) investigate aerosol variability near clouds
4) evaluate model simulations of aerosol transport
5) assess aerosol optical properties derived from a combination of surface, airborne, and satellite measurements.

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