Abstract

Atmospheric gravity waves and turbulence generate small-scale fluctuations of wind, pressure, density, and temperature in the atmosphere. These fluctuations represent a real hazard for commercial aircraft and are known by the generic name of clear-air turbulence (CAT). Numerical weather prediction models do not resolve CAT and therefore provide only a probability of occurrence. A ground-based Rayleigh lidar was designed and implemented to remotely detect and characterize the atmospheric variability induced by turbulence in vertical scales between 40 m and a few hundred meters. Field measurements were performed at Observatoire de Haute-Provence (OHP, France) on 8 December 2008 and 23 June 2009. The estimate of the mean squared amplitude of bidimensional fluctuations of lidar signal showed excess compared to the estimated contribution of the instrumental noise. This excess can be attributed to atmospheric turbulence with a 95% confidence level. During the first night, data from collocated stratosphere-troposphere (ST) radar were available. Altitudes of the turbulent layers detected by the lidar were roughly consistent with those of layers with enhanced radar echo. The derived values of turbulence parameters Cn2 or CT2 were in the range of those published in the literature using ST radar data. However, the detection was at the limit of the instrumental noise and additional measurement campaigns are highly desirable to confirm these initial results. This is to our knowledge the first successful attempt to detect CAT in the free troposphere using an incoherent Rayleigh lidar system. The built lidar device may serve as a test bed for the definition of embarked CAT detection lidar systems aboard airliners.

© 2016 Optical Society of America

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