Retrieval of Atmospheric CO2 Concentration above Clouds and Cloud Top Pressure from Airborne Lidar Measurements during ASCENDS Science Campaigns

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Jianping Mao1, Anand K Ramanathan1, Michael Rodriguez2, Graham R Allan2, William E Hasselbrack2, James Brice Abshire3, Haris Riris3 and Stephan R Kawa3, (1)Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, COLLEGE PARK, MD, United States, (2)Sigma Space Corporation, Lanham, MD, United States, (3)NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States
NASA Goddard is developing an integrated-path, differential absorption (IPDA) lidar approach to measure atmospheric CO2 concentrations from space as a candidate for NASA’s ASCENDS (Active Sensing of CO2 Emissions over Nights, Days, and Seasons) mission. The approach uses pulsed lasers to measure both CO2 and O2 absorption simultaneously in the vertical path to the surface at a number of wavelengths across a CO2 line at 1572.335 nm and an O2 line doublet near 764.7 nm. Measurements of time-resolved laser backscatter profiles from the atmosphere allow the technique to estimate column CO2 and O2 number density and range to cloud tops in addition to those to the ground. This allows retrievals of CO2 column above clouds and cloud top pressure, and all-sky measurement capability from space. This additional information can be used to evaluate atmospheric transport processes and other remote sensing carbon data in the free atmosphere, improve carbon data assimilation in models and help global and regional carbon flux estimates.

We show some preliminary results of this capability using airborne lidar measurements from the summers of 2011 and 2014 ASCENDS science campaigns. These show simultaneous retrievals of CO2 and O2 column densities for laser returns from low-level marine stratus clouds in the west coast of California. This demonstrates the supplemental capability of the future space carbon mission to measure CO2 above clouds, which is valuable particularly for the areas with persistent cloud covers, e.g, tropical ITCZ, west coasts of continents with marine layered clouds and southern ocean with highest occurrence of low-level clouds, where underneath carbon cycles are active but passive remote sensing techniques using the reflected short wave sunlight are unable to measure accurately due to cloud scattering effect. We exercise cloud top pressure retrieval from O2 absorption measurements during the flights over the low-level marine stratus cloud decks, which is one of fundamental parameters related to cloud radiative forcing and their feedback to global warming. These retrievals are evaluated with those from in-situ measured during the campaigns.