3.3 Progress toward observation of global wind profiles for weather and climate applications

Wednesday, 9 January 2013: 4:30 PM
Ballroom A (Austin Convention Center)
R. Michael Hardesty, NOAA/ESRL, Boulder, CO; and L. P. Riishojgaard, W. Baker, G. D. Emmitt, B. Gentry, M. J. Kavaya, and S. Mango

In 2007, the National Research Council Earth ScienceDecadal Survey identified as one of its 17 primary missions the application of Doppler lidar technology for the measurement of global wind vectors from space. The NRC report recognized the potential impact of global winds for weather and climate applications and recommended that efforts move forward to demonstrate the technology necessary to carry out such a mission. In the period since the report was issued, investigators representing Federal agencies, the university community, and the private sector have made significant progress in demonstrating both the impact of global wind observations and the technology necessary to carry out such a mission. In particular, OSSE studies have clarified the positive impact of satellite-measured global winds for analysis and prediction of atmospheric state, showing general benefits over all parts of the globe with particular improvements in the tropics and southern hemisphere. Investigators have also identified several specific problems where large-scale information would be beneficial, including characterization of the East African low-level jet, improved forecasting of the Asian monsoon, and quantification of large-scale poleward transfer of moisture.

Simultaneously, the development and application of optical technology needed for a space-based winds mission has advanced. The current satellite mission concept includes individual subsystems for measuring winds through analysis of backscattered radiation from both atmospheric molecules and aerosol particles. Aircraft versions of the molecular and aerosol subsystems, some capable of autonomous operation have been assembled and demonstrated aboard high-flying aircraft. Aircraft measurement campaigns are continuing to further assess and improve instrument performance.

Assessment of the feasibility of installing and operating a Doppler lidar from the International Space Station (ISS) was carried out during an Instrument Design Laboratory (IDL) study. Although an ISS deployment would not provide full global winds, the concentration of observations at low latitudes would facilitate investigation of a number of important issues such associate with tropical and subtropical dynamics. Cost estimates produced as part of the IDL study enable planning for future mission opportunities such as those potentially available through the NASA Earth Venture program.

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