Multi-wavelength LILAS LiDAR Raman at the Laboratory of Atmospheric Optic (LOA).

Keywords : Aerosols, LiDARs, MicroLiDARs, monitoring, Earth observation, remote sensing, Raman, wavelengths, ash, dust, sand.

July 29th 2022

The Laboratoire d’optique atmosphérique (LOA) is a joint research unit of the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) of France and the University of Lille – Sciences and Technologies. The LOA studies the different components of the atmosphere, mainly clouds, aerosols and gas. In collaboration with the LOA, CIMEL created a joint research laboratory : AGORA-LAB.

Since 2005, the LOA has started the systematic observation of aerosols by LiDAR and has developed a database and an automated real-time data processing system. Its collaboration with CIMEL allowed the creation of the multi-wavelength LILAS LiDAR which was integrated into the European network EARLINET/ACTRIS in 2015.

The LILAS LiDAR was specifically designed and adjusted by CIMEL to meet a specific need of the LOA. The transportable multi-wavelength Raman research LiDAR LILAS offers a significant qualitative and quantitative value on aerosol parameters measured at night and during the day, in particular through its combination with CIMEL sun/sky/lunar photometers.

LILAS also allows the observation of clouds and the obtention water vapor and methane profiles. It also gives access to essential climate variables such as the absorption profile of atmospheric aerosols. Its maximum range can reach 20 km and allows it to study the lower stratosphere which can be useful in case of major volcanic eruption for example.

For the Data treatment, the AUSTRAL (AUtomated Server for the TReatment of Atmospheric Lidars) web server data is the processing tool, which provides real-time quicklooks of the LiDAR Range Corrected Signals (RCS) and Volume Depolarization Ratio (VDR) as well as Klett inversion results (extinction and backscatter coefficient profiles).

To answer the need of various stakeholders, the CE710 LiDAR is a fully customizable high power multi-channel aerosols LiDAR resulting from the collaboration between the LOA, CIMEL and Dr. Igor Veselovskii. Depending on the requirements and budgets of each, it exists multiple options to customize the LiDAR. For exemple, the choice of the laser type and the wavelengths, the depolarization options or the RAMAN options (and many more).

Thanks to its precision in the detection of aerosols, the LILAS CE710 LiDAR has highlighted many atmospheric natural events such as volcanic eruptions (ash) or dust and sand events for example. LILAS data and all the LiDAR’s activities between the LOA and CIMEL bring a precious monitoring tool to understand atmospheric phenomenas over France, Europe and worldwide.

Figure 1 : View of LILAS (telescope, laser, and acquisition bay) in vertical view, open roof hatch and example of observed aerosol profiles. LILAS is a transportable multi-wavelength Elastic & Raman LiDAR. It has 3 elastic channels (355, 532 and 1064 nm), 3 Raman channels (387, 407 and 530 nm) and 3 depolarized channels (355, 532 and 1064 nm).

Figure 2: Night time LILAS operation during SHADOW-2 campaign in Senegal (Credits: Q. Hu, LOA)

Figure 3 : Detection of smoke particles injected up to 17 km into the stratosphere by intense pyro-convection generated by the Canadian wildfires of summer 2017 (Hu et al., 2018).

Figure 4: Illustration of the extreme event in October 2017. LiDAR LILAS time series from 16/10/17-16:00 to 17/10/17-06:00 UTC at the Lille site (LOA). (a) The reddest regions indicate a high concentration of particles while the blue regions indicate a very low concentration of particles. (b) Aerosol depolarization which informs us about the shape of the particles and thus their nature, desert or fire particles.
 Graphic credits Q. Hu, LOA

Communications and posters
  • Podvin T., P. Goloub, D. Tanré, I. Veselovskii, V. Bovchaliuk, M. Korensky, A. Mortier, S. Victori, .LILAS, un LIDAR multispectral et Raman pour l’étude des aérosols, de la vapeur d’eau et des nuages, Atelier Experimentation et Instrumentation 2014 (oral presentation)
  • Podvin T, Q. Hu, P. Goloub,  O. Dubovik, I. Veselovskii, V. Bovchaliuk, A. Lopatin, B. Torres, D. Tanré, C. Deroo, T. Lapyonok, F. Ducos, A. Diallo. , LILAS, le Lidar multi spectral Raman polarisé et quelques résultats d’inversions, Atelier Experimentation et Instrumentation 2017 (poster presentation).
  • Hu et al., Aerosol absorption measurements and retrievals in SHADOW2 campaign, ICAC 2017, International Conference on Aerosol Cycle, 21 – 23 Mar, Lille
  • Hu et al., A test of new approaches to retrieve aerosol properties from Photometer-LiDAR joint measurements, ESA/IDEAS Workshop 2017, Lille, 06-07 Apr 2017
  • Hu et al., Retrieval of aerosol properties with Sun/Sky-photometer and LiDAR measurements, ACTRIS-FR, Workshop, Autrans Méaudre en Vercors, 3-5 mai 2017
  • Hu et al., Retrieval of aerosol properties with Sun/Sky-photometer and LiDAR measurements, 28th ILRC, international LiDAR and Radar conference, Bucharest, 25 – 30 June
  • Hu et al., Lidar measurements with 3-depolarization in Lille, 3rd ACTRIS-2 WP2 Workshop, Delft, 13-17 Nov 2017.

Méteo France

METEO-FRANCE network of CIMEL’s instruments

Keywords : Aerosols, LiDARs, monitoring, Earth observation, remote sensing, CAL/VAL, atmosphere, air quality, photometers, aviation, volcanos survey, volcanic ashes, atmospheric monitoring

July 06th 2022

Météo-France is a public administrative institution, the official meteorological and climatological service in France. As such, it exercises the State’s responsibilities in terms of meteorological safety. The institution is also in charge of managing and modernizing an observation network of the atmosphere, the surface ocean and the snow cover in France and overseas.

The institution is also present on an international level as it contributes to the programs and activities of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) which sets standards that meet the shared needs of its Member States.

Météo-France’s research department, the Centre national de recherches météorologiques (CNRM), is a joint research unit with the CNRS. Météo-France is also a joint supervisor of the Laboratoire de l’Atmosphère et des CYclones (LaCy), the Service des Avions Français Instrumentés pour la Recherche et l’Environnement (SAFIRE), and the Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées (OMP).

Météo-France core missions are linked to the needs related to the protection of people and property: weather forecasting, knowledge of the climate and its evolution, physics and dynamics of the atmosphere and interactions between men, the climate and the atmosphere…

The knowledge of weather conditions is of huge importance for the aviation industry for example. Landing, taking off and even flying safely depends on weather conditions. The perfect example of this huge importance is the eruption of the volcano Eyjafjallajökull which occurred in April 2010. The Icelandic volcano released a thick ash of smoke which disrupted European air traffic, causing five days of complete interruption of traffic: the largest closure of airspace decreed in Europe, not without financial consequences as it led to considerable losses.

Indeed, volcanic ash which tends to settle in the atmosphere is dangerous as it can be sucked into the plane’s engines, then, melt, and finally clog the jet engines. It can cause air plane accidents.

Hence the importance of using state-of-the-art remote sensing measuring instruments to determine for instance the localization, the characterization and the concentration of aerosols in the atmosphere. For this purpose, Météo-France works in collaboration with the LOA (Laboratoire d’Optique Atmosphérique) to manage and maintain a network of efficient solutions and link several instruments such as LiDARs and CIMEL photometers (ready-to-use by AERONET) for more accurate data and considerably reduced uncertainties.

To this end, CIMEL works in close collaboration with Météo-France and ensures to provide quality and constantly improved instruments to meet the urgent needs in terms of security.

Actually, CIMEL also provides instrument synergies between Photometers and LiDARs through a unique monitoring software iAAMS, dedicated to the aerosols study and analysis. The obtained parameters are the characterization of aerosol types, the extinction and backscatter profile of mass concentration. Cimel’s AAMS is able to automatically locate, identify and quantify aerosols, layer by layer, day and night.


US west coast forests are more and more in the grip of Wildfires.

Keywords : Aerosols, LiDARs, MicroLiDARs, Monitoring, Earth observation, Remote sensing, Wildfire, Smoke, Ash, Fires, Climate Change, Global Warming, Atmospheric Monitoring, Mobile Solutions, Air Quality

June 28th 2022

According to a recent UN report, forest fires will continue to increase by the end of the century. It is especially the case on the west coast of the United States, which is one of the countries most affected by this phenomenon. Whether they are natural or human-caused, these fires are devastating on a large scale.

The global warming makes the conditions more favorable to the start of fires and their proliferation. The climate change is worsening the impacts by prolonging the fire seasons.

California is the most wildfire-prone state in the United States. In 2021, over 9000 wildfires burned in the Southwestern state ravishing nearly 2.23 million acres.

Fires are a danger to life on the planet: smoke inhalation, soil degradation and water pollution, destruction of the habitats of many species… Not to mention the aggravation of global warming due to the destruction of forests, crucial to absorb the carbon that we emit.

Therefore, on summer 2019, NASA initiated FIREX-AQ mission so as to investigate on fire and smoke from wildfire using several measurement instruments across the world, and especially in the US.

NASA uses satellites combined with airborne and ground-based instruments to decipher the impact of wildfires.

The emissions of ash clouds resulting from the fire can be transported thousands of miles and can have an impact on air quality for example as they are responsible for a large fraction of the US PM2.5 emissions. Due to its microscopic size, PM2.5 is easily inhaled and has the potential to travel deep into our respiratory tracts, it can also remain airborne for long periods.

To date, wildfire outputs are still poorly represented in emission inventories.

The overarching objectives of FIREX-AQ are to:

  • Provide measurements of trace gas and aerosol emissions for wildfires and prescribed fires in great detail
  • Relate them to fuel and fire conditions at the point of emission
  • Characterize the conditions relating to plume rise
  • Follow plumes downwind to understand chemical transformation and air quality impacts
  • Assess the efficacy of satellite detections for estimating the emissions from sampled fires

For this purpose, CIMEL provided CE376 micro-LiDARs as well as its network of CE318-T photometers through AERONET. These solutions allowed detailed measurements of aerosols emitted from wildfires and agricultural fires to address science topics and evaluate impacts on local and regional air quality, and how satellite data can be used to estimate emissions more accurately.

Figure 1: CE376 micro-LiDAR and CE318-T photometers embarked on a car for FIREX-AQ mobile measurements campaign in Western US (2019).

Indeed, the synergy of the photometer with the mobile CE376 LiDAR allows profiling the extinction at 2 wavelengths (532, 808 nm) and of the Angstrom Exponent (AE). AE vertical profile and the depolarization capabilities of the CE376 allow identifying the aerosol type (fine/coarse). Below are some results from the FIREX-AQ 2019 mission:

Figure 2: Mapping of smoke vertical and spatial dispersion thanks to mobile LIDAR and photometer measurements by Dr. Ioana POPOVICI.   

Figure 3:  Mapping and modelization from FIREX-AQ campaign in Western US (2019) by LiDAR CE376.


FIREX-AQ experience proved that we are able to embark compact remote sensing instruments and install them quickly on site to access harsh environments and get close to fire sources, which has not been done before. Actually, it is the first time a LIDAR reaches that close to fire sources in a mountainous region.



Giles, D. M. and Holben, B. and Eck, T. F. and Slutsker, I. and LaRosa, A. D. and Sorokin, M. G. and Smirnov, A. and Sinyuk, A. and Schafer, J. and Kraft, J. and Scully, A. and Goloub, P. and Podvin, T. and Blarel, L. and Proniewski, L. and Popovici, I. and Dubois, G. and Lapionak, A., (2020), Ground-based Remote Sensing of the Williams Flats Fire Using Mobile AERONET DRAGON Measurements and Retrievals during FIREX-AQ, 2020, AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts.