Articles | Volume 7, issue 8
Research article
26 Aug 2014
Research article |  | 26 Aug 2014

Potential of airborne lidar measurements for cirrus cloud studies

S. Groß, M. Wirth, A. Schäfler, A. Fix, S. Kaufmann, and C. Voigt

Abstract. Aerosol and water vapour measurements were performed with the lidar system WALES of Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) in October and November 2010 during the first mission with the new German research aircraft G55-HALO. Curtains composed of lidar profiles beneath the aircraft show the vertical and horizontal distribution and variability of water vapour mixing ratio and backscatter ratio above Germany. Two missions on 3 and 4 November 2010 were selected to derive the water vapour mixing ratio inside cirrus clouds from the lidar instrument. A good agreement was found with in situ observations performed on a second research aircraft flying below HALO. ECMWF analysis temperature data are used to derive relative humidity fields with respect to ice (RHi) inside and outside of cirrus clouds from the lidar water vapour observations. The RHi variability is dominated by small-scale fluctuations in the water vapour fields while the temperature variation has a minor impact. The most frequent in-cloud RHi value from lidar observations is 98%. The RHi variance is smaller inside the cirrus than outside of the cloud. 2-D histograms of relative humidity and backscatter ratio show significant differences for in-cloud and out-of-cloud situations for two different cirrus cloud regimes. Combined with accurate temperature measurements, the lidar observations have a great potential for detailed statistical cirrus cloud and related humidity studies.