In 2012, we developed a proof-of-concept system for a new open-path laser absorption spectrometer concept for measuring atmospheric CO2
. The measurement approach utilizes high-reliability all-fiber-based, continuous-wave laser technology, along with a unique all-digital lock-in amplifier method that, together, enables simultaneous transmission and reception of multiple fixed wavelengths of light. This new technique, which utilizes very little transmitted energy relative to conventional lidar systems, provides high signal-to-noise (SNR) measurements, even in the presence of a large background signal. This proof-of-concept system, tested in both a laboratory environment and a limited number of field experiments over path lengths of 680 m and 1,600 m, demonstrated SNR values >1,000 for received signals of ~18 picoWatts averaged over 60 s. A SNR of 1,000 is equivalent to a measurement precision of ±0.001 or ~0.4 ppmv. The measurement method is expected to provide new capability for automated monitoring of greenhouse gas at fixed sites, such as carbon sequestration facilities, volcanoes, the short- and long-term assessment of urban plumes, and other similar applications. In addition, this concept enables active measurements of column amounts from a geosynchronous orbit for a network of ground-based receivers/stations that would complement other current and planned space-based measurement capabilities.