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Atmospheric Science Conducts Airborne LIDAR Tests

August 16, 2010

Professor Zhien Wang, Department of Atmospheric Science (pictured below) has been granted National Science Foundation (NSF) support for testing his new, small Raman LIDAR on the University of Wyoming King Air research aircraft. LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) is an optical remote sensing technology that measures properties of scattered light to find range and/or other properties of a distant target—in this case, the atmosphere below the aircraft.

The project, titled the Wyoming King Air PBL Exploratory Experiment (KAPEE), is based at the University Flight Center at Laramie Regional Airport. The overall goal of the experiment to be conducted this summer is to explore new airborne boundary layer observation capabilities by combining the new LIDAR with in situ aerosol and trace gases measurements from the King Air. The successful development of this observation capability will provide better data to study many important science questions: how aerosol chemical, optical, and (cloud) nucleational properties vary spatially and temporally; how surface inhomogeneities affect near surface water vapor and aerosol structure; and how cloud development interacts with the environment.

The new integrated capabilities will be available to a wide science community. Specific goals of the project are to measure PBL aerosol properties (extinction, backscattering and depolarization) and near aircraft (within 400m) water vapor with a downward compact Raman LIDAR; evaluate and improve LIDAR aerosol and water vapor measurements with in situ sampling; combine LIDAR and in situ measurements to better characterize the PBL aerosol chemical, optical, and (cloud) nucleational property distributions; and characterize aerosol and water vapor distributions over the complex terrain or surrounding clouds. This research is also supported by Prof. Wang’s NSF five year Faculty Early Career Development grant (CAREER), NSF’s most prestigious honor for young faculty members.

NSF established the CAREER program to support the early career development activities of teacher-scholars who are “most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century.” Awardees are selected on the basis of creative, career development plans that effectively integrate research and education within the context of their institution’s mission.


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