Articles | Volume 10, issue 7
Research article
31 Jul 2017
Research article |  | 31 Jul 2017

Study and mitigation of calibration factor instabilities in a water vapor Raman lidar

Leslie David, Olivier Bock, Christian Thom, Pierre Bosser, and Jacques Pelon

Abstract. We have investigated calibration variations in the Rameau water vapor Raman lidar. This lidar system was developed by the Institut National de l'Information Géographique et Forestière (IGN) together with the Laboratoire Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales (LATMOS). It aims at calibrating Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) measurements for tropospheric wet delays and sounding the water vapor variability in the lower troposphere. The Rameau system demonstrated good capacity in retrieving water vapor mixing ratio (WVMR) profiles accurately in several campaigns. However, systematic short-term and long-term variations in the lidar calibration factor pointed to persistent instabilities. A careful testing of each subsystem independently revealed that these instabilities are mainly induced by mode fluctuations in the optic fiber used to couple the telescope to the detection subsystem and by the spatial nonuniformity of the photomultiplier photocathodes. Laboratory tests that replicate and quantify these instability sources are presented. A redesign of the detection subsystem is presented, which, combined with careful alignment procedures, is shown to significantly reduce the instabilities. Outdoor measurements were performed over a period of 5 months to check the stability of the modified lidar system. The calibration changes in the detection subsystem were monitored with lidar profile measurements using a common nitrogen filter in both Raman channels. A short-term stability of 2–3 % and a long-term drift of 2–3 % per month are demonstrated. Compared to the earlier Development of Methodologies for Water Vapour Measurement (DEMEVAP) campaign, this is a 3-fold improvement in the long-term stability of the detection subsystem. The overall water vapor calibration factors were determined and monitored with capacitive humidity sensor measurements and with GPS zenith wet delay (ZWD) data. The changes in the water vapor calibration factors are shown to be fairly consistent with the changes in the nitrogen calibration factors. The nitrogen calibration results can be used to correct the overall calibration factors without the need for additional water vapor measurements to within 1 % per month.

Short summary
The Raman lidar ability to retrieve atmospheric water vapor with high accuracy makes it a premium instrument in different research fields such as climatology, meteorology, or calibration of GNSS altimetry data. In order to achieve long-term stability of the measurements, the system has to be carefully calibrated. In this work we strove to investigate and mitigate the error and instability sources through numerical simulations as well as experimental tests.