An investigation of the sensitivity of a gas-detecting, airborne differential absorption lidar to the wavelength-based reflectivity variations of the ground was made using the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s (JPL) reflectance library. The JPL library contains 2287 data sets of reflective materials covering a wide range from manmade to lunar regolith. The study covered an online wavelength range of 400 to 4000 nm. Two assumptions were made to provide a path to analysis. The first was that an instrument developer could tolerate no more than 5% error on the overall answer due to reflectivity differences from wavelength separation. The second was that, regardless of atmospheric conditions, molecular cross section, starting power levels, or myriad other effects, the offline received signal is 10% higher than the online received signal. From this foundation, wavelength separation limits were determined when 99%, 95%, and 90% of the materials in the database met the error criteria. It was found that most applications need wavelength separations within about 0.5 nm for low error while some applications could use wavelengths separated by 10 nm or more. Example case studies are provided to demonstrate the applicability and use of the computed plots intended for informing early-stage instrument design.