Calibration of a water vapour Raman lidar using GRUAN-certified radiosondes and a new trajectory method



Hicks-Jalali, S., Sica, R. J., Haefele, A., and Martucci, G.



by Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT) at 2019-07-09



Raman lidars have been designated as potential candidates for trend studies by the Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Composition Change (NDACC) and GCOS (Global Climate Observing System) Reference Upper Air Network (GRUAN); however, for such studies improved calibration techniques are needed as well as careful consideration of the calibration uncertainties. Trend determinations require frequent, accurate, and well-characterized measurements. However, water vapour Raman lidars produce a relative measurement and require calibration in order to transform the measurement into a mixing ratio, a conserved quantity when no sources or sinks for water vapour are present. Typically, the calibration is done using a reference instrument such as a radiosonde. We present an improved trajectory technique to calibrate water vapour Raman lidars based on the previous work of Whiteman et al. (2006), Leblanc and Mcdermid (2008), Adam et al. (2010), and Herold et al. (2011), who used radiosondes as an external calibration source and matched the lidar measurements to the corresponding radiosonde measurement. However, they did not consider the movement of the radiosonde relative to the air mass and fronts. Our trajectory method is a general technique which may be used for any lidar and only requires that the radiosonde report wind speed and direction. As calibrations can be affected by a lack of co-location with the reference instrument, we have attempted to improve their technique by tracking the air parcels measured by the radiosonde relative to the field of view of the lidar. This study uses GRUAN Vaisala RS92 radiosonde measurements and lidar measurements taken by the MeteoSwiss RAman Lidar for Meteorological Observation (RALMO), located in Payerne, Switzerland, from 2011 to 2016 to demonstrate this improved calibration technique. We compare this technique to the traditional radiosonde–lidar calibration technique which does not involve tracking the radiosonde and uses the same integration time for all altitudes. Both traditional and our trajectory methods produce similar profiles when the water vapour field is homogeneous over the 30 min calibration period. We show that the trajectory method reduces differences between the radiosonde and lidar by an average of 10 % when the water vapour field is not homogeneous over a 30 min calibration period. We also calculate a calibration uncertainty budget that can be performed on a nightly basis. The calibration uncertainty budget includes the uncertainties due to phototube paralysis, aerosol extinctions, the assumption of the Ångström exponent, and the radiosonde. The study showed that the radiosonde was the major source of uncertainty in the calibration at 4 % of the calibration value. This trajectory method showed small improvements for RALMO's calibration but would be more useful for stations in different climatological regions or when non-co-located radiosondes are the only available calibration source.



Hicks-Jalali, S., Sica, R. J., Haefele, A., and Martucci, G.: Calibration of a water vapour Raman lidar using GRUAN-certified radiosondes and a new trajectory method, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 12, 3699-3716, https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-12-3699-2019, 2019.


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