Atmospheric Remote Sensing: Instruments

High Resolution Doppler Lidar (HRDL)

HRDL instrument photo

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

Contact: Alan Brewer

HRDL instrument photo

HRDL instrument deployed on a ship.

Basic Parameters Measured

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

Field Projects

Project NameDateLocation
XPIAExperimental Measurement Campaign (XMC) for Planetary Boundary Layer (PBL) Instrument Assessment (XPIA)201502February 2015 - currentErie, Colorado (ground site)
DJFluxDenver-Julesburg Basin Flux Study (DJFlux)201409September-November 2014Erie, Colorado (ground site)
FRAPPEFront Range Air Pollution and Photochemistry Éxperiment (FRAPPÉ)201407July-August 2014Erie, Colorado (ground site)
LUMEXLidar Uncertainty Measurement EXperiment (LUMEX)201406June-July 2014Erie, Colorado (ground site)
INFluxIndiana Flux Study (INFlux)201405May-June 2014Indianapolis, Indiana (ground site)
TXFluxTexas Flux Study (TXFlux)201303March - April, October 2013Texas (ground site)
UBWOS 2013Uintah Basin Winter Ozone Study (UBWOS) 2013201301January-February 2013Horsepool, Utah (ground site)
Denver-Julesburg Basin CH4 Flux Study201204April - May 2012Weld County, Colorado (ground site)
UBWOS 2012Uintah Basin Winter Ozone Study (UBWOS) 2012201201January - March 2012Horsepool, Utah (ground site)
DYNAMO Dynamics of the Madden-Julian Oscillation (DYNAMO)201109September 2011 - January 2012Indian Ocean (R/V Revelle ship-based)
Aircraft Plume Study Aircraft Plume Study200105 May 2001
TWICS Turbine Wake and Inflow Characterization Study (TWICS)201104 April 2011Boulder, Colorado (ground site)
VOCALS VAMOS Ocean-Cloud-Atmosphere-Land Study (VOCALS)200810 October-November 2008SE Pacific - Chile (R/V Ronald H. Brown ship based)
TexAQS Texas Air Quality Study (TexAQS) 2k6200607 July-September 2006Houston, Texas / Gulf of Mexico (R/V Ronald H. Brown ship based)
NEAQS New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS) 2k4200407 July-August 2004New England / Atlantic Coast (R/V Ronald H. Brown ship based)
LLPJ Lamar Low-Level Jet Program (LLLJP)200309 September 2003Southeastern Colorado (ground site)
IHOP International H2O Project (IHOP)200205 May-June 2002Oklahoma (DLR Falcon, aircraft based)
Bahamas Bahamas200004 April-May 2000Bahamas
CASES Cooperative Atmospheric Surface Exchange Study (CASES)199910 October 1999Leon, Kansas
Nauru Nauru99199906 June-July 1999Tropical Western Pacific
Vortex Vortex99199901 January 1999Huntsville, Alabama
LIFT Lidars In Flat Terrain (LIFT)199608 August 1996Champaign/Urbana, Illinois
MBLEX Marine Boundary Layer Experiment (MBLEX)199504 April-May 1995Pacific Ocean, off Monterey, California

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


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.