Wind profilers

From Glossary of Meteorology
Redirect page

Redirect to:


wind profiler

(Also called wind profiler radar, wind profiling radar.) A radar that is used to measure vertical profiles of the wind.

In general the term is applied to Doppler radars operating in the VHF–UHF band (30 MHz– 3 GHz) that determine the wind by measuring the line-of-sight Doppler shift of scattered signals (Bragg scattering) from refractive index fluctuations caused by turbulence (
see clear-air echo). The turbulent scattering structures are assumed to be moving with the same average velocity as the wind. The three-dimensional wind vector is determined by using the beam swinging technique of pointing the radar beam in at least three different directions. Another type of wind profiler radar that operates in the VHF–UHF band uses a technique called spaced antenna drift (SAD). SAD radars use a single vertical-beam transmitting antenna and three or more horizontally spaced, vertical-beam receiving antennas. The horizontal wind is determined from the cross correlation of the received echoes and the vertical wind is determined from the Doppler shift of the echoes. In addition to measuring the wind vector, wind profiler radars can also determine several other atmospheric quantities from the power, mean Doppler shift, and Doppler spectral width of the returned signal. These quantities include the strength of turbulence (parameterized by the refractive index structure constant Cn2), the eddy dissipation rate, atmospheric stability, momentum flux, virtual temperature and heat flux (using the RASS technique), and precipitation rates and drop- size distributions (from scatter from hydrometeors). Doppler lidars and acoustic sounders (sodars) can also be used as wind profilers. The scatterers for lidars are aerosols (for wavelengths around 10 μm) and molecules (for wavelengths less than 1 μm). Acoustic refractive index fluctuations caused by turbulence provide the scattering mechanism for sodars.
See also MST radar, boundary layer radar.


Copyright 2022 American Meteorological Society (AMS). For permission to reuse any portion of this work, please contact permissions@ametsoc.org. Any use of material in this work that is determined to be “fair use” under Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act (17 U.S. Code § 107) or that satisfies the conditions specified in Section 108 of the U.S.Copyright Act (17 USC § 108) does not require AMS’s permission. Republication, systematic reproduction, posting in electronic form, such as on a website or in a searchable database, or other uses of this material, except as exempted by the above statement, require written permission or a license from AMS. Additional details are provided in the AMS Copyright Policy statement.