The RAMNI airborne lidar for cloud and aerosol research
Abstract. We describe an airborne lidar for the characterization of atmospheric aerosol. The system has been set up in response to the need to monitor extended regions where the air traffic may be posed at risk by the presence of potentially harmful volcanic ash, and to study the characteristics of volcanic emissions both near the source region and when transported over large distances. The lidar provides backscatter and linear depolarization profiles at 532 nm, from which aerosol and cloud properties can be derived. The paper presents the characteristics and capabilities of the lidar system and gives examples of its airborne deployment. Observations from three flights, aimed at assessing the system capabilities in unperturbed atmospheric conditions, and at characterizing the emissions near a volcanic ash source (Mt. Etna) and transported far away from the source, are presented and discussed.