LIDAR, which stands for light detection and ranging, is an instrument that uses an intense laser light transmitted at an object and detecting the laser light reflected by the object.
The main difference between LIDAR and radar is that LIDAR uses much shorter electromagnetic wavelengths, such as in the ultraviolet, visible, and near infrared spectrum. LIDAR is frequently used to evaluate the structure and composition of the atmosphere. LIDAR is extremely sensitive to aerosols and cloud particles. Therefore, LIDAR has a number of applications in meteorology and atmospheric research.
There are three basic types of LIDAR:
- Range Finders - used to determine the distance between LIDAR and a solid target.
- DIfferential Absorption LIDAR (DIAL) - used to determine the chemical concentrations, for example pollutants, in the atmosphere.
- Doppler LIDAR - used to determine the velocity of a target.