Xinzhao Chu

Xinzhao Chu

Ph.D. Physics and Electrical Engineering,
Peking University, Beijing, 1996
Associate Professor, Aerospace Engineering Sciences

Web: Chu Research Group
Office: CIRES 241
Phone: 303-492-3280

Research Interests

Xinzhao Chu and her research group focus on both lidar technology development and atmospheric/space science study. The technology development involves atomic, molecular and laser spectroscopy, lidar technology and instrument development, and cluster remote sensing technology applications including observational campaigns from the North Pole to the South Pole. The science study is currently focused on the polar mesospheric and stratospheric clouds, thermal structure and dynamics in the stratosphere, mesosphere and lower thermosphere in both polar and equatorial regions with observations, data analysis, and modeling. One of the goals is to send a resonance lidar into space to study the global middle atmosphere dynamics.

Current Research: LIDAR Technology Innovation
and Atmospheric Sciences Study

A new discovery of neutral iron (Fe) layers reaching more than 170 kilometers in the thermosphere is just one of the advances in atmosphere and space sciences brought about by cuttingedge lidar technologies and observations. With this extraordinary observation, made by winter-over lidar student Weichun Fong on June 1, 2013, in Antarctica, we are able to measure the neutral atmosphere temperatures from 30 to 170 kilometers for the first time in the world (Chu et al. 2013). It brings us one step closer to realizing a dream of making whole-atmosphere (0 to 200 kilometers) lidar observations. Certainly, such a discovery challenges our understanding of electrodynamics, neutral dynamics, chemistry, composition, and energetics in Earth’s space environment, therefore prompting new research growth points. The frontier lidar research at CIRES is delivering more discoveries and new insights to the Coupling, Energetic, and Dynamics of Atmospheric Regions (CEDAR) sciences. A remarkable accomplishment is that CIRES lidar students from the Chu Research Group have won the first-place prizes three years in a row in the CEDAR Student Poster Competitions, sponsored by the National Science Foundation. In 2013, Zhibin Yu won for his work titled “Lidar observations and numerical modeling studies of thermospheric Fe/Fe+ layers.” Cao Chen figured out the mystery of inertia-gravity waves at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, and won the first-place prize in 2012. Add to that Chihoko Yamashita’s 2011 win, and our group’s lidar students have made a new record in CEDAR history. Additionally, the studies by CIRES postdoctoral Visiting Fellow Xian Lu and student Weichun Fong provide insights into the planetary waves and thermal tides in Antarctica. Together, a comprehensive picture of the polar atmosphere and space is emerging.
Another key aspect of our FY13 work was development of next-generation lidar technologies. CIRES graduate student John
Smith has made outstanding innovations in the Fe and sodium (Na) Doppler lidars. The very high lidar-signal levels are enabling
group members to conduct new science studies, such as the simultaneous measurements of Fe, Na, and heat fluxes by research
scientist Wentao Huang and the first-ever lidar derivation of eddy flux by student Jeroen Geeraert. In 2012, Bo Tan earned his Ph.D., and Brendan Roberts earned his master’s degree. Congratulations to these excellent students and researchers!

Chen and Fong

Cao Chen (left) and Weichun Fong (right) with two invisible ultraviolet lidar beams at the Arrival Heights Lidar Observatory near McMurdo Station, Antarctica, in January 2013. Weichun is stationed there from August 2012 through October 2013, braving through the Antarctic winter of 2013. His lidar observations have led to new science discoveries, and the legend of lidar is being continued in Antarctica. Photo credit: Xinzhao Chu.

Lidar laser

Creative CIRES graduate students Zhibin Yu and John Smith "painted" the word LIDAR in the atmosphere at the Table Mountain Lidar Facility in north Boulder, Colorado. Photo credit: Zhibin Yu and John A. Smith/CIRES.

Selected Publications [ more publications ]

Click here for a complete list of published works »

Honors and Awards

  • Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award, National Science Foundation
  • Director, Consortium Technology Center for the Consortium of Resonance and Rayleigh Lidars, National Science Foundation

Dr. Chu is a CIRES Professor.