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  • Print publication year: 2016
  • Online publication date: November 2016

13 - Concluding remarks

Summary

Introduction

It should be clear from the foregoing chapters that the range of applications of MST and windprofiler radar is broad and challenging. Some techniques are mature, some are under development, and some are even no doubt yet to be discovered. Measurements of wind velocities and, by extension, wave motions, wave-mean flow interactions, momentum flux deposition and turbulence, are possible. Capabilities for temperature measurements, and the possibility of humidity measurements, have been discussed. Strange echoes such as polar mesosphere summer echoes have given new insights into the plasma processes of the lower thermosphere. Studies of turbulence anisotropy are possible. We have demonstrated functional radar designs that cost as little as $100 000 up to many millions of dollars.

We will not dwell on these many achievements, however, which should be selfevident. What is perhaps of greater interest is the future of these instruments, and this will be the main focus here.

The future

The future harbors both pragmatic and curiosity-driven aspects. From the point of view of the former, networks of radars, providing data for incorporation into computer forecasting and now-casting models, offer the hope of better forecasts. They have been shown to have benefits in forecasting on time-scales from a few hours out to several days, especially with systems deployed in Japan, Europe, and Canada (see Chapter 12). At the time of writing (2015), the European Space Agency is about to launch a specialized satellite instrument (AEOLUS) for measurement of tropospheric winds from space by lidar, and the networks of windprofilers discussed will be crucial tools for validation of these data. However, since the satellite only measures winds at sunrise and sunset, the radars, with their continuous recording capability, will continue to provide valuable input to meteorological models for many years to come.

Accurate records of winds are of course valuable for large-scale forecasts. This can impact aircraft travel, allowing better flight planning. The ability of radars to make reliable measurements of turbulence strengths can also be of value from the perspective of aircraft passenger safety.