The coherent Doppler lidar, when operated from an airborne platform, offers a unique measurement capability for study of atmospheric dynamical and physical properties. This is especially true for scientific objectives requiring measurements in optically-clear air, where other remote sensing technologies such as Doppler radar are at a disadvantage in terms of spatial resolution and coverage. Recent experience suggests airborne coherent Doppler lidar can yield unique wind measurements of--and during operation within--extreme weather phenomena. This paper presents the first airborne coherent Doppler lidar measurements of hurricane wind fields. The lidar atmospheric remote sensing groups of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Marshall Space Flight Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Environmental Technology Laboratory, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory jointly developed an airborne lidar system, the Multi-center Airborne Coherent Atmospheric Wind Sensor (MACAWS). The centerpiece of MACAWS is the lidar transmitter from the highly successful NOAA Windvan. Other field-tested lidar components have also been used, when feasible, to reduce costs and development time. The methodology for remotely sensing atmospheric wind fields with scanning coherent Doppler lidar was demonstrated in 1981; enhancements were made and the system was reflown in 1984. MACAWS has potentially greater scientific utility, compared to the original airborne scanning lidar system, owing to a factor of approx. 60 greater energy-per-pulse from the NOAA transmitter. MACAWS development was completed and the system was first flown in 1995. Following enhancements to improve performance, the system was re-flown in 1996 and 1998. The scientific motivation for MACAWS is three-fold: obtain fundamental measurements of subgrid scale (i.e., approx. 2-200 km) processes and features which may be used to improve parameterizations in hydrological, climate, and general/regional circulation models; obtain similar datasets to improve understanding and predictive capabilities for similarly-scaled processes and features; and simulate and validate the performance of prospective satellite Doppler lidars for global tropospheric wind measurement.
Instrumentation and Photography
Tenth Biennial Coherent Laser Radar Technology and Applications Conference; 29-32; NASA/CP-1999-209758