mpl > Micropulse LidarInstrument Type(s) > Baseline • 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
Central Facility, Lamont, OK 1996-03-12
Graciosa Island, Azores, Portugal 2013-10-02
Central Facility, Barrow AK 1998-05-21
Oliktok Point, Alaska; AMF3 2015-08-01


Khanal S, Z Wang, and J French. 2020. "Improving middle and high latitude cloud liquid water path measurements from MODIS." Atmospheric Research, 243, 10.1016/j.atmosres.2020.105033.

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.

Mei F, D Dexheimer, J Fast, M Diao, B Geerts, A Bucholtz, L Riihimaki, C Flynn, T Thornberry, T Campos, S Springston, C Kuang, J Tomlinson, and B Schmid. 2020. ARM Aerial Instrument Workshop Report. Ed. by Robert Stafford, ARM user facility. DOE/SC-ARM-20-010.

Romps DM and R Oktem. 2020. Measuring Clouds at the Southern Great Plains with Stereo Photogrammetry Field Campaign Report. Ed. by Robert Stafford, ARM user facility. DOE/SC-ARM-20-011.

Oue M, A Tatarevic, P Kollias, D Wang, K Yu, and A Vogelmann. 2020. "The Cloud-resolving model Radar SIMulator (CR-SIM) Version 3.3: description and applications of a virtual observatory." Geoscientific Model Development, 13(4), 10.5194/gmd-13-1975-2020.
Research Highlight

Riley E, J Kleiss, L Riihimaki, C Long, L Berg, and E Kassianov. 2020. "Shallow cumuli cover and its uncertainties from ground-based lidar-radar data and sky images." Atmospheric Measurement Techniques, 13(4), 10.5194/amt-13-2099-2020.

Muradyan P and R Coulter. 2020. Micropulse Lidar (MPL) Instrument Handbook. Ed. by Robert Stafford, U.S. Department of Energy. DOE/SC-ARM/TR-019.

Su T, Z Li, C Li, J Li, W Han, C Shen, W Tan, J Wei, and J Guo. 2020. "The significant impact of aerosol vertical structure on lower atmosphere stability and its critical role in aerosol-planetary boundary layer (PBL) interactions." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 20(6), 10.5194/acp-20-3713-2020.
Research Highlight

Su T, Z Li, and R Kahn. 2020. "A new method to retrieve the diurnal variability of planetary boundary layer height from lidar under different thermodynamic stability conditions." Remote Sensing of Environment, 237, 111519, 10.1016/j.rse.2019.111519.

Fielding M, S Schäfer, R Hogan, and R Forbes. 2020. "Parametrizing cloud geometry and its application in a subgrid cloud‐edge erosion scheme." Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 146(729), 10.1002/qj.3758.

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