dl: Doppler Lidar

The Doppler Lidar (DL) is an active remote-sensing instrument that provides range- and time-resolved measurements of the line-of-sight component of air velocity (i.e., radial velocity) and attenuated aerosol backscatter. The DL operates in the near-infrared and is sensitive to backscatter from atmospheric aerosol, which are assumed to be ideal tracers of atmospheric wind fields.

The DL works by transmitting short pulses of infrared laser light into the atmosphere Atmospheric aerosols scatter a small fraction of that light energy back to the transceiver, where it is collected and recorded as a time-resolved signal. From the delay between the outgoing pulse and the backscattered signal, the instrument infers the distance to the scattering volume.

Coherent detection is used to measure the Doppler frequency shift of the backscatter signal. This is accomplished by mixing the backscatter signal with a reference laser beam (i.e., local oscillator) of known frequency. The onboard signal processor then determines the Doppler frequency shift from the spectrum of the mixed signal. The Doppler frequency shift and thus the radial air velocity is determined from the peak of the Doppler spectrum. The attenuated backscatter is determined from the energy content of the Doppler spectra.

The DL provides accurate measurements of radial velocity in regions of the atmosphere where aerosol concentrations are high enough to ensure good signal-to-noise ratio. Thus, valid data are usually limited to the atmospheric boundary layer where aerosol is ubiquitous. Valid measurements can also be obtained in elevated aerosol layers or in optically thin clouds above the boundary layer. Most of the ARM DLs have full upper-hemispheric scanning capability, enabling 3D mapping of turbulent flows in the atmospheric boundary layer. With the scanner pointed vertically, the DL provides height- and time-resolved measurements of vertical velocity.



  • Fixed
  • AMF1
  • AMF2
  • AMF3

Related Publications


Lareau N, Y Zhang, and S Klein. 2018. "Observed Boundary Layer Controls on Shallow Cumulus at the ARM Southern Great Plains Site." Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, , 10.1175/JAS-D-17-0244.1. ONLINE.

Wolfmeyer V and D Turner. 2018. Land-Atmosphere Feedback Experiment Field Campaign Report. Ed. by Robert Stafford, ARM Climate Research Facility. DOE/SC-ARM-18-007.

Wulfmeyer V, D Turner, B Baker, R Banta, A Behrendt, T Bonin, W Brewer, M Buban, A Choukulkar, E Dumas, R Hardesty, T Heus, J Ingwersen, D Lange, T Lee, S Metzendorf, S Muppa, T Meyers, R Newsom, M Osman, S Raasch, J Santanello, C Senff, F Späth, T Wagner, and T Weckwerth. 2018. "A New Research Approach for Observing and Characterizing Land-Atmosphere Feedback." Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, , 10.1175/BAMS-D-17-0009.1.

Turner D, V Wulfmeyer, A Behrendt, T Bonin, A Choukulkar, R Newsom, W Brewer, and D Cook. 2018. "Response of the Land-Atmosphere System Over North-Central Oklahoma During the 2017 Eclipse." Geophysical Research Letters, 45(3), 10.1002/2017GL076908.


Pennypacker S and R Wood. 2017. "A Case Study in Low Aerosol Number Concentrations Over the Eastern North Atlantic: Implications for Pristine Conditions in the Remote Marine Boundary Layer." Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmospheres, 122(22), doi:10.1002/2017JD027493.

Wainwright C, P Stepanian, D Reynolds, and A Reynolds. 2017. "The movement of small insects in the convective boundary layer: linking patterns to processes." Scientific Reports, 7(1), 10.1038/s41598-017-04503-0.

Chen H, A Hodshire, J Ortega, J Greenberg, P McMurry, A Carlton, J Pierce, D Hanson, and J Smith. 2017. "Vertically resolved concentration and liquid water content of atmospheric nanoparticles at the US DOE Southern Great Plains site." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 18(1), doi:10.5194/acp-18-311-2018.

Berg L, R Newsom, and D Turner. 2017. "Year-Long Vertical Velocity Statistics Derived From Doppler Lidar Data for the Continental Convective Boundary Layer." Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, 56(9), 10.1175/JAMC-D-16-0359.1.

Schwartz S, D Huang, and D Vladutescu. 2017. "High-resolution photography of clouds from the surface: Retrieval of optical depth of thin clouds down to centimeter scales." Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 122(5), 10.1002/2016JD025384.

Newsom R, W Brewer, J Wilczak, D Wolfe, S Oncley, and J Lundquist. 2017. "Validating precision estimates in horizontal wind measurements from a Doppler lidar." Atmospheric Measurement Techniques, 10(3), 10.5194/amt-10-1229-2017.

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