Articles | Volume 3, issue 6
Research article
20 Dec 2010
Research article |  | 20 Dec 2010

Ceilometer lidar comparison: backscatter coefficient retrieval and signal-to-noise ratio determination

B. Heese, H. Flentje, D. Althausen, A. Ansmann, and S. Frey

Abstract. The potential of a new generation of ceilometer instruments for aerosol monitoring has been studied in the Ceilometer Lidar Comparison (CLIC) study. The used ceilometer was developed by Jenoptik, Germany, and is designed to find both thin cirrus clouds at tropopause level and aerosol layers at close ranges during day and night-time. The comparison study was performed to determine up to which altitude the ceilometers are capable to deliver particle backscatter coefficient profiles. For this, the derived ceilometer profiles are compared to simultaneously measured lidar profiles at the same wavelength. The lidar used for the comparison was the multi-wavelengths Raman lidar PollyXT. To demonstrate the capabilities and limits of ceilometers for the derivation of particle backscatter coefficient profiles from their measurements two examples of the comparison results are shown. Two cases, a daytime case with high background noise and a less noisy night-time case, are chosen. In both cases the ceilometer profiles compare well with the lidar profiles in atmospheric structures like aerosol layers or the boundary layer top height. However, the determination of the correct magnitude of the particle backscatter coefficient needs a calibration of the ceilometer data with an independent measurement of the aerosol optical depth by a sun photometer. To characterizes the ceilometers signal performance with increasing altitude a comprehensive signal-to-noise ratio study was performed. During daytime the signal-to-noise ratio is higher than 1 up to 4–5 km depending on the aerosol content. In our night-time case the SNR is higher than 1 even up to 8.5 km, so that also aerosol layers in the upper troposphere had been detected by the ceilometer.