Optical Engineering • Open AccessReview of profiling oceanographic lidar
This paper provides a review of the development of profiling oceanographic lidars. These can provide quantitative profiles of the optical properties of the water column to depths of 20 to 30 m in productive coastal waters and to depths of 100 m for a blue lidar in the open ocean. The properties that can be measured include beam attenuation, diffuse attenuation, absorption, volume scattering at the scattering angle of 180 deg, and total backscattering. Lidar can be used to infer the relative vertical distributions of fish, plankton, bubbles, and other scattering particles. Using scattering as a tracer, lidar can provide information on the dynamics of the upper ocean, including mixed-layer depth, internal waves, and turbulence. Information in the polarization of the lidar return has been critical to the success of many of these investigations. Future progress in the field is likely through a better understanding of the variability of the lidar ratio and the application of high-spectral-resolution lidar to the ocean. Somewhat farther into the future, capabilities are likely to include lidar profiling of temperature in the ocean and an oceanographic lidar in space.