Articles | Volume 9, issue 3
Research article
15 Mar 2016
Research article |  | 15 Mar 2016

Calibration of a water vapour Raman lidar with a kite-based humidity sensor

Julien Totems and Patrick Chazette

Abstract. We present a calibration method for a water vapour Raman lidar using a meteorological probe lifted by a kite, flown steadily above the lidar site, within the framework of the Hydrological Cycle in the Mediterranean Experiment (HyMeX) and Chemistry-Aerosol Mediterranean Experiment (ChArMEx) campaigns. The experiment was carried out in Menorca (Spain) during June 2013, using the mobile water vapour and aerosol lidar WALI. Calibration using a kite demonstrated a much better degree of co-location with the lidar system than that which could be achieved with radiosondes, and it allowed us to determine the overlap function and calibration factor simultaneously. The range-dependent water vapour lidar calibration was thus determined with an uncertainty of 2 % in the 90–8000 m altitude range. Lidar water vapour measurements are further compared with radiosondes, showing very good agreement in the lower troposphere (1–5 km) and a relative difference and standard deviation of 5 and 9 % respectively. Moreover, a reasonable agreement with MODIS-integrated water vapour content is found, with a relative mean and standard deviation of 3 and 16 % respectively. However, a discrepancy is found with AERONET retrievals, showing the latter to be underestimated by 28 %. Reanalyses by the ECMWF/IFS numerical weather prediction model also agree with the temporal evolution highlighted with the lidar, with no measurable drift in integrated water vapour content over the period.

Short summary
We present a calibration method for a water vapour Raman lidar, using a meteorological probe lifted by a kite, that was applied during the HyMeX and ChArMEx programs over the Mediterranean. It allowed measuring both the overlap factor of the lidar and the calibration constant with better precision than with simultaneous balloon radiosoundings, as balloons go up faster and can drift during the measurements. Comparisons to other moisture profiles demonstrate the accuracy of the calibrated lidar.