In September 2017 I began working in Dr. Alan Brewer’s group in the Earth Systems Research Laboratory (ESRL) in the Chemical Sciences Division (CSD) at the National Atmospheric and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Boulder, CO. I am funded through a National Research Council (NRC) postdoctoral fellowship to develop and implement a more mobile and robust version of ESRL’s micro Doppler Lidar.
The micro pulsed lidar that the group utilized before I began was housed in an approximately 6x2x2 foot cabinet and was stationary during field campaigns. The instrument was reliable, precise, and remotely controllable when deployed but its size limited its deployability to open space measurements, potentially large aircraft, and shipping sea containers.
The instrument needed to be reformatted and miniaturized to enable measurements of more difficult to access environments and reduce deployment costs. Additionally, the instrument would ideally be deployable on more mobile platforms like small aircraft, passenger vehicles, and codeployments on research vessels. The first part of my tenure with the group was to box the instrument’s telescope, transmit/receive switch, and erbium amplifier of the lidar into a head unit and separate it from the electronics and electro-optics required to operate the lidar. This creates an umbilical link that enables the smaller, lighter head unit to be more easily mounted in mobile platforms. Also, the power supplies and fiber components of the electro-optics box have been condensed and miniaturized to be entirely rack-mounted. We have made a few improvements with mode-matching optics and electro-optic modulators to increase the return power coupling and amplifier isolation from the launch telescope. The instrument can now be packaged and shipped in a few large suitcase sized hard sided boxes and is easily movable while in the field since the head unit weighs only 60 lbs.
As of January 2018, the new instrument passed its test flights in a NOAA Twin Otter as pictured on the Home page. Following this flight, some aspects will be improved and accommodations are being made for the May 2018 deployment for the FireWinds campaign. These measurements will hopefully shed light on how wildfires propagate and dynamics contained within the fire plume.
Following the FireWinds campaign, we will be using the new instrument on the PISTON research vessel campaign based out of Taiwan. We will be investigating the behavior of the Madden-Julien Oscillation as it travels across the Pacific Ocean. We will be deploying on top of a shipping container housing a W-band radar to supplement their data with wind field measurements up to the cloud base.
For more information on our group see: https://esrl.noaa.gov/csd/groups/csd3/