Abstract

The impact and potential of a polarization-selection technique to reduce the sky background signal for linearly polarized monostatic elastic backscatter lidar measurements are examined. Taking advantage of naturally occurring polarization properties in scattered skylight, we devised a polarization-discrimination technique in which both the lidar transmitter and the receiver track and minimize detected sky background noise while maintaining maximum lidar signal throughput. Lidar elastic backscatter measurements, carried out continuously during daylight hours at 532  nm, show as much as a factor of 10 improvement in the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) over conventional unpolarized schemes. For vertically pointing lidars, the largest improvements are limited to the early morning and late afternoon hours, while for lidars scanning azimuthally and in elevation at angles other than vertical, significant improvements are achievable over more extended time periods with the specific times and improvement factors depending on the specific angle between the lidar and the solar axes. The resulting diurnal variations in SNR improvement sometimes show an asymmetry with the solar angle that analysis indicates can be attributed to changes in observed relative humidity that modifies the underlying aerosol microphysics and observed optical depth.

© 2006 Optical Society of America

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