Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Climate Research Facility US Department of Energy

mpl > Micropulse LidarInstrument Type(s) > Baseline • Evaluation • External • Guest

The micropulse lidar (MPL) is a ground-based, optical, remote-sensing system designed primarily to determine the altitude of clouds; however, it is also used for detection of atmospheric aerosols. The physical principle is the same as for radar. Pulses of energy are transmitted into the atmosphere; the energy scattered back to the transceiver is collected and measured as a time-resolved signal, thereby detecting clouds and aerosols in real time.

From the time delay between each outgoing pulse and the backscattered signal, the distance to the scatterer is inferred. Post-processing of the lidar return characterizes the extent and properties of aerosols or other particles in a region.


  • Fixed
  • AMF1
  • AMF2
  • AMF3


Jensen M, V Ghate, D Wang, D Apoznanski, M Bartholomew, S Giangrande, K Johnson, and M Thieman. 2021. "Contrasting characteristics of open- and closed-cellular stratocumulus cloud in the eastern North Atlantic." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 21(19), 10.5194/acp-21-14557-2021.
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Flynn D, E Cromwell, and D Zhang. 2021. Micropulse Lidar Cloud Mask Machine-Learning Value-Added Product Report. Ed. by Robert Stafford, ARM user facility. DOE/SC-ARM-TR-274.

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