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Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) is a powerful tool for Earth observation. This active remote measurement technique helps to answer scientific questions related to global change of the atmospheric dynamics, the Earth’s radiation budget, the hydrological cycle, the carbon cycle, atmospheric chemistry, and weather prediction
Measurements of winds throughout the atmosphere are crucial for both numerical weather prediction (NWP) and climate studies. Profiling measurements of the global wind field from satellite instruments are prioritised by WMO (World Meteorological Organization) Expert Teams for global NWP. In 1999 the European Space Agency (ESA) selected the Atmospheric Dynamics Mission ADM-Aeolus to overcome the lack in global wind observations.
Water vapour in the atmosphere is one of the key-substances, controlling both weather and climate. Water vapour is the dominant greenhouse gas in the Earth's atmosphere. Moreover, it plays a central role in atmospheric chemistry. Despite its importance to atmospheric processes over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales, water vapor is one of the least understood and poorly described components of the Earth's atmosphere.
Beyond their task to serve as airborne demonstrators for future spaceborne missions our lidar systems are frequently used in scientific campaigns, both national and international, ranging from tropical to the arctic latitudes, to study atmospheric dynamics, exchange processes as well as cloud and particle properties, through range-resolved measurements of wind, water vapour, trace gases and aerosol.
Atmosphere, Weather and Clima
Earth observation and the interpretation of data with help of numerical models are two cornerstones of climate change research.
The global climate is changing. According to IPCC a large fraction of this change is anthropogenic due to the emissions of greenhouse gases, their precursors or other directly and indirectly radiatively active substances (e.g., water vapour from aircraft, which triggers contrails).
Clouds, aerosols and climate
The role of clouds in the climate system is still the largest uncertainty in the prediction of the future development of climate and in the understanding of the water cycle. Broadening the knowledge about cloud processes will not only deepen our understanding of the climate system, but it is an essential prerequisite to assessing the climate effects of transport emissions.
Detailed investigations of the variability of the stratospheric ozone layer and its long-term changes have shown that a full description of the observed fluctuations is only possible if dynamical as well as physical and chemical processes and their complex interactions are considered. Moreover, it must be regarded that changes in the troposphere in general also lead to modifications of the stratospheric composition and specifically of the ozone layer.
Water vapour and ozone in the atmosphere
Identification, interpretation and quantitative analysis of changes of atmospheric chemical species (gases), in particular water vapour and ozone, but also of UV radiation and of climate are central tasks of atmospheric research. The concentration of stratospheric ozone has decreased significantly during the last two decades, especially over the Antarctic in spring time (ozone hole).
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