Atmospheric instruments

The LIDAR at Davis
The LIDAR at Davis (Photo: NR)

Scientists use a range of instruments to make atmospheric measurements at Australia’s Davis station and from similar facilities operated by other nations in Antarctica. These instruments include:

  • LIDAR – the light detection and ranging instrument uses a laser beam to measure atmospheric density, temperature, wind velocity and aerosols in the middle atmosphere (10–100km up).
  • MST radar — the mesosphere-stratosphere-troposphere radar (also known as the VHF radar) measures wind speed and direction throughout the middle atmosphere. The radar detects reflections from turbulent structures in the mesosphere, stratosphere and troposphere and is used to study meteor trails and atmospheric waves.
  • MFSA radar — the medium frequency spaced antenna measures wind speed and direction at 50–100km altitude;
  • Meteor radar — measures components of the wind and temperature near the top of the middle atmosphere (85–95km) by tracing meteoric material that enters the atmosphere.
  • Czerny-Turner scanning spectrometer — detects infra-red light emissions from a layer of  hydroxyl (OH) molecules (the ‘hydroxyl airglow layer’) 87km above Earth, to determine the temperature of this remote region of the atmosphere.
  • Automatic weather station (AWS) provide information on surface weather.
  • Balloons
  • Satellites
  • Fabry-Perot Spectrometers are optical instruments that allow accurate measurements to be made of atmospheric winds and temperatures from the ground.