Light-Based Method Improves Practicality and Quality of Remote Wind Measurements


Researchers have developed a new remote sensing instrument based on light detection and ranging (LIDAR) that could offer a simple and robust way to accurately measure wind speed. The detailed, real-time wind measurements could help scientists to better understand how hurricanes form and provide information that meteorologists can use to pinpoint landfall earlier, giving people more time to prepare and evacuate.

“As hurricane Harvey approached the U.S., hurricane hunters flew directly into the storm and dropped sensors to measure wind speed,” said Xiankang Dou, leader of the research team at the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC). “Our Doppler LIDAR instrument can be used from a plane to remotely measure a hurricane’s wind with high spatial and temporal resolutions. In the future, it could even make these measurements from aboard satellites.”

Wind measurements are also crucial for determining safe flying conditions, understanding how pollution moves through the air and efficiently operating wind turbines. Existing high-accuracy wind measurement technologies can be expensive and difficult to operate, leading to gaps in the application of these technologies in situations where they are most useful.

“We demonstrated a Doppler wind LIDAR with a simplified optical layout that also substantially enhances the system stability,” said Dou. “Although specialists are typically needed to operate and maintain a sophisticated Doppler LIDAR, we are confident we can develop our approach into a system that will be as easy to use as a smartphone.”

Continue reading at The Optical Society.

Image source:  The Optical Society