The development of remote-sensing instruments that can be used to monitor several parameters at the same time is important for the study of complex processes such as those that control climate and environment. In this paper the performance of a new concept of lidar receiver that allows for the direct measurement of aerosol and cloud optical properties simultaneously with wind velocity is investigated. This receiver uses a Mach-Zehnder interferometer. Two different configurations, either with four photometric output channels or with fringe imaging on a multichannel detector, are studied. Analytical expressions of the statistical errors are given under the assumption of Gaussian signal spectra. It is shown that similar accuracies can be achieved for both configurations. Performance modeling of the retrieval of semitransparent cloud optical scattering properties and wind velocity was done at different operation wavelengths for a Nd:YAG laser source. Results for such a lidar system onboard an aircraft flying at an altitude of 12 km show that for semitransparent clouds the best results were obtained at 355 nm, with relative standard deviations of 0.5% and 5% for the backscatter and extinction coefficients, respectively, together with a velocity accuracy of 0.2 ms-1. The accuracy of optical properties retrieved for boundary layer aerosols are comparable, whereas the velocity accuracy is decreased to 1 ms-1. Finally, an extrapolation to a large 355-nm spaceborne lidar shows accuracies in the range from 2.5% to 5% for the backscatter coefficient and from 10% to 15% for the extinction coefficient together with a vertical wind speed accuracy of better than 0.5 ms-1 for semitransparent clouds and boundary layer, with a vertical resolution of 500 m and a 100 shot averaging.
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