UK: A team of British engineers from Airbus Space & Defense has developed a weather satellite, which can help scientists to forecast about unpredictable weather. Named as Aeolus, the satellite will fire a laser into the atmosphere to make the first three-dimensional maps of wind behavior across the entire planet.
The data gathered in the process will be incorporated into the models that project weather patterns. The satellite will map the Earth’s atmosphere like no previous scientific instrument has done before.
“It’ll directly and continuously measure our planet’s winds, for the very first time,” says Dr. Ralph Cordey, head of Earth observation at Airbus.
Dr. Cordey says Aeolus has the ability to accurately model wind patterns up to four days in advance.
In Britain, flooding often occurs when storms from the tropics are blown northwards. When the humid air makes landfall it can cause devastating, torrential rain – like it did in December 2015.
The floods cut power to more than 7000 homes across north England, and swollen rivers swept away bridges and railway lines.
Meteorologists have multiple ways of measuring the wind, from whirling anemometers and balloons to satellites that infer wind behavior by tracking cloud movement or by sensing the choppiness of the seas.
But these are all somewhat limited indications, telling us what is happening in particular places or at particular heights.
With its ultraviolet laser, it will aim to build a truly global view of how wind blows on Earth from the surface of the planet all the way up through the troposphere and into the stratosphere (from 0km to 30km).
Aeolus actually only sees the movement of the scattering particles away or towards the satellite – but this is still information the numerical weather models can make great use of.