Atmospheric Remote Sensing: Instruments

High Resolution Doppler Lidar (HRDL)

HRDL instrument
HRDL instrument at sunset

The High Resolution Doppler Lidar (HRDL) is a system capable of measuring and mapping atmospheric velocities and backscatter with the high precision and sampling rate necessary for boundary layer studies important to understanding weather, climate and air quality. Research applications include:

  • High spatial temporal and velocity resolution wind profiles
  • Boundary layer turbulence and entrainment zone studies
  • Flux measurements
  • LES model initialization and validation
  • Temporally and spatially averaged measurements of divergence
  • Multi-platform operations: land, sea and air
HRDL instrument
HRDL instrument deployed on a ship

Basic Parameters Measured

  • Range resolved line-of-sight velocity profiles
  • Range resolved backscatter intensity

Typical Specifications

Wavelength2.0218 µm (fully eye-safe)
Pulse energy1.5 mJ
Pulse rate200 Hz
Frequency stability0.2 MHz
ScanUpper hemisphere
Range Resolution30 m
Time Resolution0.02 s (for 10 pulse average)
Velocity Precision5 cm/s
Minimum range0.2 km
Maximum range2 - 9 km (typically 3 km)
LaserTm:Lu,YAG diode-pumped, injection-seeded laser
Platformsground, ship, aircraft

Field Projects

Project NameDateLocation
XPIA 2015Experimental Measurement Campaign (XMC) for Planetary Boundary Layer (PBL) Instrument Assessment201502March - June 2015Erie, Colorado (ground site)
DJFlux 2014Denver-Julesburg Basin Flux Study201409September - November 2014Erie, Colorado (ground site)
FRAPPÉ 2014Front Range Air Pollution and Photochemistry Éxperiment201407July - August 2014Erie, Colorado (ground site)
LUMEX 2014Lidar Uncertainty Measurement EXperiment201406June - July 2014Erie, Colorado (ground site)
INFlux 2014Indiana Flux Study201405May - June 2014Indianapolis, Indiana (ground site)
TXFlux 2013Texas Flux Study201303March - April, October 2013Texas (ground site)
UBWOS 2013Uintah Basin Winter Ozone Study 2013201301January - February 2013Horsepool, Utah (ground site)
Flux Study 2012Denver-Julesburg Basin CH4 Flux Study201204April - May 2012Weld County, Colorado (ground site)
UBWOS 2012Uintah Basin Winter Ozone Study 2012201201January - March 2012Horsepool, Utah (ground site)
DYNAMO 2011Dynamics of the Madden-Julian Oscillation201109September 2011 - January 2012Indian Ocean (R/V Revelle ship-based)
Aircraft Plume Study200105 May 2001
TWICS 2011Turbine Wake and Inflow Characterization Study201104 April 2011Boulder, Colorado (ground site)
VOCALS 2008VAMOS Ocean-Cloud-Atmosphere-Land Study200810 October - November 2008SE Pacific - Chile (R/V Ronald H. Brown ship based)
TexAQS 2006Texas Air Quality Study 2006200607 July - September 2006Houston, Texas / Gulf of Mexico (R/V Ronald H. Brown ship based)
NEAQS 2004New England Air Quality Study 2004200407 July - August 2004New England / Atlantic Coast (R/V Ronald H. Brown ship based)
LLPJLamar Low-Level Jet Program200309 September 2003Southeastern Colorado (ground site)
IHOPInternational H2O Project200205 May - June 2002Oklahoma (DLR Falcon, aircraft based)
Bahamas200004 April - May 2000Bahamas
CASESCooperative Atmospheric Surface Exchange Study199910 October 1999Leon, Kansas
Nauru 99199906 June - July 1999Tropical Western Pacific
Vortex 99199901 January 1999Huntsville, Alabama
LIFTLidars In Flat Terrain 199608 August 1996Champaign/Urbana, Illinois
MBLEXMarine Boundary Layer Experiment199504 April - May 1995Pacific Ocean, off Monterey, California


Grund, C.J., R.M. Banta, J.L. George, J.N. Howell, M.J. Post, R.A. Richter, A.M. Weickmann, High-Resolution Doppler Lidar for Boundary Layer and Cloud Research, Journal of Atmospheric & Oceanic Technology, 18(3), 376-393, 2001.

Wulfmeyer, V., A. Brewer, A. Weickmann, R. Richter, J. Vanandel, J. Howell, C. Grund, M. Hardesty, and P. Hildebrand, NCAR/NOAA high-resolution Doppler lidar for wind measurements and its potential for water-vapor differential absorption lidar, Book of Abstracts, Vol. 2, Fourth International Symposium on Tropospheric Profiling, 341-343, Snowmass, Colorado, September 1998.

Wulfmeyer, V., W.A. Brewer, C. Senff, S. Mayor, R. Marchbanks, J. Howell, A. Weickmann, R. Richter, C. Grund, and R.M. Hardesty, Performance and applications of the NOAA 2um High Resolution Doppler Lidar, 19th International Laser Radar Conference, NASA/CP--1998--207671/PT1, 573-576, Annapolis, Maryland, July 1998.

Grund, C.J., Coherent Doppler Lidar for Boundary Layer Wind Measurement Employing a Diode-pumped Tm:Lu,YAG Laser, Coherent Laser Radar, 19, 1995 OSA Technical Digest Series, 14-16, Optical Society of America, Washington, DC, 1995.