Micro-Pulse Lidar Network MPLCAN

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For more information about Micro-Pulse Lidar Network and data, please, contact Dr. Robert Sica.

The Micro-Pulse Lidar (MPL) is an elastic backscatter polarization lidar built by Droplet Measurement Technologies. An elastic backscatter lidar measures the laser light scattered from particles in the atmosphere back to the detector. The MPLs use eye-safe lasers operating at 532 nm and have the capability for autonomous aerosol and cloud monitoring. They provide a real-time measurement up to 30 km, allowing the determination of data products which include normalized relative backscatter and volume depolarization ratio. Other significant data products from each instrument are offered by MPLNET in 4 different datasets (NRB, Aerosol, Cloud, Planetary Boundary Layer). Utilizing these measurements, the MPL can differentiate cloud phase and aerosol type (e.g. dust, ash, smoke, and pollutants). Additionally, cloud boundary detection is possible up to 15 km. The network currently consists of 5 mini-MPLs.

Fig 1. Diagram of the operation of the Micro-Pulse Lidar

To improve understanding of the transport of particulates, as well as studying the impact of these particulates on interpreting ozone trends and their role in the formation of fog and clouds, we are establishing 4 new nodes which we call the Canadian Micro-Pulse Lidar Network (MPLCAN). The MPLs are being deployed, or are already deployed, in London, ON, Sherbrooke, Halifax, and in the High Arctic (Eureka, NU). A fifth MPL already established in Toronto has joined the network. These instruments are part of the global NASA Micro-pulse Lidar Network. The micro-pulse lidars (MPLs) will allow the structure of the atmosphere to be profiled in both height and time, for both the amount and type of particulates present, in addition to allowing liquid water to be discriminated from ice in developing clouds, precipitation, and fog. We also measure layers of smoke particles in the upper troposphere and stratosphere (> 10 km altitude) associated with distant forest fires, injected into the stratosphere via a process called pyroconvection. The smoke particles can travel great distances, and affect both ozone concentration and temperature. With the number and severity of forest fires increasing, forest fires play a more complex role in global warming than anticipated, and we are trying to understand these effects.