Laser Atmospheric Transmitter Receiver-Network (LAnTeRN): A new approach for active measurement of atmospheric greenhouse gases

Author: J.T. Dobler and T. Scott Zaccheo
December 7, 2012
Poster presentation
AGU Fall Meeting 2012

Jeremy T. Dobler; Michael Braun; T Scott Zaccheo (2012) Laser Atmospheric Transmitter Receiver-Network (LAnTeRN): A new approach for active measurement of atmospheric greenhouse gases. AGU Fall Meeting 2012, San Francisco, CA

The Laser Atmospheric Transmitter Receiver-Network (LAnTeRN) is a new measurement concept that will enable local, regional and continental determination of key greenhouse gases, with unparalleled accuracy and precision. This new approach will offer the ability to make low bias, high precision, quasi-continuous, measurements to the accuracies required for separating anthropogenic and biogenic sources and sinks.

In 2004 ITT Exelis developed an airborne demonstration unit, based on an intensity modulated continuous wave (IM-CW) lidar approach, for actively measuring atmospheric CO2 and O2. The multi-functional fiber laser lidar (MFLL) system relies on low peak power, high reliability, and efficient telecom laser components to implement this unique measurement approach.

While evaluating methods for discriminating against thin clouds for the MFLL instrument, a new measurement concept was conceived. LAnTeRN has several fundamental characteristics in common with the MFLL instrument, but is a fundamentally different implementation and capability. The key difference is that LAnTeRN operates in transmission rather than in the traditional backscatter lidar configuration, which has several distinct advantages. Operating as a forward scatter, bistatic lidar system, LAnTeRN enables consideration of continuous monitoring from a geostationary orbit to multiple locations on the ground. Having the receivers on the ground significantly lowers cost and risk compared to an all space based mission, and allows the transmitter subsystem to be implemented, near term, as a hosted payload. Furthermore, the LAnTeRN measurement approach is also applicable for ground to ground measurements where high precision measurements over a long open path is required, such as facilities monitoring, or monitoring of passive volcanoes and fault lines. Using narrow linewidth laser sources allows flexibility to select the position on the absorption feature being probed. This feature allows for weighting the absorption toward lower altitudes for the space implementation or to handle large dynamic range measurements as would be required for volcano monitoring.

This presentation will discuss results from a detailed instrument performance analyses, retrieval simulations, and from initial testing of a proof of concept demonstration unit being developed by Exelis. Initial analysis indicate that measurements from a transmitter in geostationary orbit to 25 ground receivers in the eastern U.S. can retrieve column integrated CO2 values to a precision of <0.2 ppm on monthly averages and <0.06 ppm on yearly averages, using conservative estimates of cloud cover and aerosol loading. The capability for continuous monitoring over a fixed geometry makes it possible to independently characterize the atmospheric column, using existing capabilities (e.g. aircore, aircraft and in-situ instrumentation), for quantification of bias. Furthermore, the ability to selectively locate the ground receivers can enable focused studies for specific applications.