Instrument : High Spectral Resolution Lidar (HSRL)

Instrument Categories
Aerosols, Cloud Properties

The High Spectral Resolution Lidar (HSRL ) provides calibrated measurements of aerosol optical depth, volume backscatter coefficient, cross section, and depolarization. Measurements are computed from ratios of the particulate scattering to the measured molecular scattering. This provides absolute calibration and makes the calibration insensitive to dirt or precipitation on the output window. A very narrow, angular field-of-view reduces multiple scattering contributions. The small field-of-view, coupled with a narrow optical bandwidth, nearly eliminates noise due to scattered sunlight.

Description of Raw Data

The raw HSRL data are in NetCDF format and include four backscatter channels:

combined_high = high-gain aerosol+molecular
combined_low = low-gain aerosol+molecular
cross = depolarization
molecular = molecular signal only

These data are uncalibrated, but can be used to obtain a qualitative view of the atmospheric column. The file does not include a height variable, but the height can be calculated using the following expression:

delta_z (in meters) = binwidth_ns*(1.0e-9)*(3.0e8)/2.0
z (in meters) = ([0,1,2,3,...,bincount-1]-pulse_index)*delta_z

Where "binwidth_ns" and "pulse_index" are attributes of the four backscatter variables and bincount is the vertical dimension.

Note: the first several z values will be negative because the system records background data for a few nanoseconds before sending out the pulse.

To derive physical properties like optical extinction, the high and low gain channels will be merged to provide a unified aerosol+molecular profile and combined with the other channels. These higher order products will be available soon.

Shipley, ST, DH Tracy, EW Eloranta, JT Trauger, JT Sroga, FL Roesler and JA Weinman, "A High Spectral Resolution Lidar to measure optical scattering properties of atmospheric aersols, Part I: Instrumentation and theory" Applied Optics, 23, 3716 – 3724, 1983.

Piironen, P, and EW Eloranta, "Demonstration of a high spectral resolution lidar based on an iodine absorption filter," OL 19, 234 – 236, 1994.

Piironen, P, "A High Spectral Resolution Lidar Based on an Iodine Absorption Filter", Ph.D. Thesis, University of Joensuu, Department of Physics, 1994.

Output Datastreams

  • hsrl : High Spectral Resolution Lidar

Primary Measurements

The following measurements are those considered scientifically relevant.


North Slope Alaska
NSAC1 Browse DataCentral Facility, Barrow AK
ARM Mobile Facility
ACXM1 Browse DataOff the Coast of California - NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown; AMF2
GANM1 Browse DataGan Airport, Gan Island, Maldives; AMF2 retired
MAGM1 Browse DataLos Angeles, CA to Honolulu, HI - container ship Horizon Spirit; AMF2 retired
SBSS1 Browse DataSteamboat Springs CO, Thunderhead Lodge retired
TMPM1 Browse DataU. of Helsinki Research Station (SMEAR II), Hyytiala, Finland; AMF2
 retired = Originating instrument has been retired at this location


John Goldsmith
Sandia National Laboratories
(925) 294-2432

Brian Ermold
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
(509) 375-2277

Edwin Eloranta
University of Wisconsin
(608) 262-7327

Joseph Garcia
University of Wisconsin
data analysis
(608) 263-7937