Copyright ESA/ATG medialab
“Equatorial regions receive more heat from the Sun than other parts of the world. This leads to differences in air temperature, density and pressure, which in turn, cause the air to move – creating wind.
“This movement of air constitutes the general circulation of the atmosphere, transporting heat away from equatorial regions towards the poles, and returning cooler air to the tropics.
“Since Earth rotates, winds do not move directly from high to low pressure areas. The Coriolis force acts at right angles to the direction of motion, so as to cause deflection to the right in the northern hemisphere and to the left in the southern hemisphere.
“Numerous factors such as topography, differential heating of the surface etc., alter the wind patterns further.”
Measuring Earth’s Winds:
ESA’s Earth Explorer Aeolus satellite has been launched into polar orbit on a Vega rocket on August 22nd. Using revolutionary laser technology, Aeolus will measure winds around the globe and play a key role in our quest to better understand the workings of our atmosphere.
Importantly, this novel mission will also improve weather forecasting.
Carrying one of the most sensitive instruments ever put into orbit — Aladin, a Doppler wind lidar — Aeolus will provide vital information on wind speeds around the globe.
This information is expected to improve weather forecasting as wind plays a complex and pivotal role in global weather systems.
Highlighted by the World Meteorological Organization, the lack of direct global wind measurements is one of the major deficits in the Global Observing System.
By filling this gap, Aeolus will give scientists the information they need to understand how wind, pressure, temperature and humidity are interlinked.
This new mission will provide insight into how the wind influences the exchange of heat and moisture between Earth’s surface and the atmosphere – important aspects for understanding climate change.
Aeolus carries one of the most sophisticated instruments ever to be put into orbit. The first of its kind, the Aladin instrument includes revolutionary laser technology to generate pulses of ultraviolet light that are beamed down into the atmosphere to profile the world’s winds – a completely new approach to measuring the wind from space.
Why Measure Wind?
ESA Meadia Lab