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.
Lidar instruments operate in the optical spectral range where intense laser pulses interact with particles and molecules of the atmosphere. From the backscattered intensity and travel time, detailed information on aerosols and clouds, water vapour, atmospheric trace gases as well as wind speed and wind direction can be directly obtained with high spatial and temporal resolution.
The Lidar instruments and methods developed in the Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre are applied on ground-based, airborne, and spaceborne platforms. In particular, ESA’s Lidar mission exploration on ADM-Aeolus, WALES, A-SCOPE, and EarthCARE are strongly supported through feasibility and impact studies, development of airborne demonstrator systems, and deployment of end-to-end simulation tools.
A further research topic comprises the development of Lidar-based measurement techniques and processing algorithms of the turbulent wind field associated with wake vortices. This activity is driven by the need of a sustained development of safety and capacity in air transport.