The measurement of global wind profiles is widely recognized as the most important unmet observational requirement for improving numerical weather forecasts. The wind field has a unique dynamical role in forcing the mass field to adjust to it at small scales in the extratropics and at all scales in the tropics. Inferring the wind field through the measurement of other quantities, as is currently done, leaves much room for improvement in the analyses for numerical forecasts and for climate monitoring. Doppler lidar technology can provide the direct measurement of wind profiles from space, with the first space-based demonstration, the European Space Agency’s Atmospheric Dynamics Mission (ADM), scheduled for launch in Spring 2011. ADM will measure line-of-sight winds via a single perspective view of the target atmospheric volume. In the U.S., a wind lidar concept has been developed which will measure the horizontal vector wind for the first time from two perspectives of the target volume. The U.S. concept also combines two different technologies, referred to as the “hybrid” approach, to obtain wind profiles from near the surface to the lower stratosphere
The U.S. wind lidar space-based concept will be discussed as well as some recent forecast impact results obtained with wind lidar data collected by aircraft during the THORPEX Pacific Area Regional Campaign (T-PARC) in Fall 2008.