Lidar Research Laboratory

The mission of the Lidar Research Laboratory is to support laser radar (lidar) and associated studies of the Arctic atmosphere.

Poker      Flat LIDAR Lab

Like a radar, lidar transmits a pulse of light into the sky and measures the echoes to make a profile of the atmosphere from the ground up to heights as far as 75 miles (120 km).  

The laboratory is located at Poker Flat Research Range in Chatanika, Alaska, and operated by the faculty, staff and students of the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Completed in 2000, the LRL is a 5.325 square foot (495 square meter) facility that houses several laboratories and shops that are equipped to support field experiments. The Geophysical Institute invites investigators who wish to conduct lidar and associated research to make use of this facility.

  • The LRL contributed to the International Polar Year as part of the Arctic Observing Network. Observations at the LRL were used to study the middle atmosphere during the IPY to better understand the physics and chemistry of the Arctic polar vortex.
  • The LRL supports studies of noctilucent clouds. The Eighth International Workshop on Layered Phenomena in the Mesopause Region was held at the Geophysical Institute on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus in August 2007.

In the image above, the aurora borealis and a laser radar beam light up the sky on a winter's night at the Lidar Research Laboratory, Poker Flat Research Range, Chatanika, Alaska. The Geophysical Institute and the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology operate lidar as part of an international collaborative study of the polar atmosphere.

Lidar, like other experiments at Poker Flat Research Range, not only serves to study the atmosphere, but also provides hands-on research education opportunities for students at the University of Alaska Fairbanks

The following have and/or continue to support research activities at the LRL: the U.S. National Science Foundation, U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, U.S. Department of Defense, State of Alaska, and the Japanese National Institute of Information and Communications Technology.

Learn more at

For more information contact:
Dr. Richard Collins
Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks,
903 Koyukuk Drive, Fairbanks, AK 99775.

Tel: 907-474-7607

Photo by T. Matsuo
Text by D. Coccia Manning