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

Active Instrument Locations

Facility Name Instrument Start Date
Houston, TX; AMF1 (main site for TRACER) 2021-04-14
Central Facility, Barrow AK 1998-05-21
Graciosa Island, Azores, Portugal 2013-10-02
Oliktok Point, Alaska; AMF3 2013-10-01


Zhang Z, Q Song, D Mechem, V Larson, J Wang, Y Liu, M Witte, X Dong, and P Wu. 2021. "Vertical dependence of horizontal variation of cloud microphysics: observations from the ACE-ENA field campaign and implications for warm-rain simulation in climate models." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 21(4), 10.5194/acp-21-3103-2021.

Lavigne T, C Liu, J Hill, and E Bruning. 2021. "Observations from the one year electric field Study-North Slope of Alaska (OYES-NSA) field campaign, and their implications for observing the distribution of global electrified cloud activity." Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, 214, 10.1016/j.jastp.2020.105528.

Riihimaki L, S McFarlane, and C Sivaraman. 2021. Droplet Number Concentration Value-Added Product. Ed. by Robert Stafford, ARM user facility. DOE/SC-ARM-TR-140.

Vignon E, S Alexander, P DeMott, G Sotiropoulou, F Gerber, T Hill, R Marchand, A Nenes, and A Berne. 2021. "Challenging and improving the simulation of mid‐level mixed‐phase clouds over the high‐latitude Southern Ocean." Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 126(7), e2020JD033490, 10.1029/2020JD033490.

Alexander S, G McFarquhar, R Marchand, A Protat, É Vignon, G Mace, and A Klekociuk. 2021. "Mixed‐phase clouds and precipitation in Southern Ocean cyclones and cloud systems observed poleward of 64°S by ship‐based cloud radar and lidar." Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, , e2020JD033626, 10.1029/2020JD033626. ONLINE.

Tao C, Y Zhang, Q Tang, H Ma, V Ghate, S Tang, S Xie, and J Santanello. 2021. "Land–Atmosphere Coupling at the U.S. Southern Great Plains: A Comparison on Local Convective Regimes between ARM Observations, Reanalysis, and Climate Model Simulations." Journal of Hydrometeorology, 22(2), 10.1175/JHM-D-20-0078.1.
Research Highlight

Geerts B, G McFarquhar, L Xue, M Jensen, P Kollias, M Ovchinnikov, M Shupe, P DeMott, Y Wang, M Tjernstrom, P Field, S Abel, T Spengler, R Neggers, S Crewell, M Wendisch, and C Lupkes. 2021. Cold-Air Outbreaks in the Marine Boundary Layer Experiment (COMBLE) Field Campaign Report. Ed. by Robert Stafford, ARM user facility. DOE/SC-ARM-21-001.


Achtert P, E O'Connor, I Brooks, G Sotiropoulou, M Shupe, B Pospichal, B Brooks, and M Tjernström. 2020. "Properties of Arctic liquid and mixed-phase clouds from shipborne Cloudnet observations during ACSE 2014." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 20(23), 10.5194/acp-20-14983-2020.

Flynn D, C Sivaraman, J Comstock, and D Zhang. 2020. Micropulse Lidar Cloud Mask (MPLCMASK) Value-Added Product for the Fast-Switching Polarized Micropulse Lidar Technical Report. Ed. by Robert Stafford, ARM user facility. DOE/SC-ARM/TR-098.

Mace G, A Protat, R Humphries, S Alexander, I McRobert, J Ward, P Selleck, M Keywood, and G McFarquhar. 2020. "Southern Ocean Cloud Properties Derived from CAPRICORN and MARCUS Data." Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 1 26(4), e2020JD033368, 10.1029/2020JD033368.

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