Research on wavelength selection of CO2 laser lines for range-resolved remote sensing of atmospheric ammonia by use of a coherent differential absorption lidar system is described. Four laser line pairs are suggested for different levels of ammonia concentrations from approximately a few parts per billion to 1 part per million in a polluted atmosphere. The most suitable line for measuring ambient ammonia concentrations is 9R(30), because it has the highest absorption coefficient. 10R(14) has the lowest absorption coefficient, making it suitable for strong source mapping. 10R(8) and 10P(32) are best for intermediate levels of ammonia concentration. Absorption coefficients of ammonia calculated from the HITRAN96 database are in good agreement (mostly within ±10%) with other experimental results. Sensitivity of measurement, interference from water-vapor lines with typical humidity in the summer, and sensitivity of ammonia absorption cross section to temperature and pressure are analyzed and calculated for the four wavelength pairs. The results show that the interference from water-vapor lines is easily correctable to a negligible amount, and errors caused by uncertainties in temperature and pressure are insignificant.
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