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Proceedings Paper

VisibleWind: a rapid-response system for high-resolution wind profiling
Author(s): Tom Wilkerson; Bill Bradford; Alan Marchant; Cordell Wright; Tom Apedaile; Eve Fowles; Allen Howard; Tom Naini
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Paper Abstract

The VisibleWindTM initiative has sponsored the development and demonstration of a simple balloon tracking system for low altitude wind profile measurements using laser rangefinders, a surveying station, and small (0.25 m diameter) lightweight balloons. Experiments on balloon trajectories demonstrate that laser range detection (± 0.5 m) combined with azimuth and elevation measurements is a simple, accurate, and inexpensive alternative to other wind profiling methods. The maximum detection range has been increased to 2200 m using retroreflector tape on the balloons. Nighttime tracking is facilitated by low power LEDs. Small balloons with low ascent rates and Reynolds numbers are preferred to avoid the large trajectory fluctuations previously observed with large balloons. Under conditions of "light and variable winds", the wind profile features observed by VisibleWindTM include the frequent onset of shear at altitudes 100 -200 m, 1-3 m/s velocity transitions across atmospheric layers only 10 -20 m thick, and rotation of wind direction exceeding 180 degrees in the altitude range 300 - 500 m. Wind speed and direction results are compared with simultaneous sodar measurements. The profiling resolution is greatly improved using a laser rangefinder, Impulse XL-200, with automatic coordinate and time recording; however, balloon tracking is still man-in-the-loop. Planned improvements include automation of the tracking system itself, so trajectory points are collected automatically at 1 Hz or faster. This ValidWindTM system is a precise and adaptable means for characterizing highly variable wind fields for wind energy, micrometeorology, and air quality studies.

Paper Details

Date Published: 12 August 2009
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 7460, Lidar Remote Sensing for Environmental Monitoring X, 746009 (12 August 2009); doi: 10.1117/12.826368
Show Author Affiliations
Tom Wilkerson, Utah State Univ. (United States)
Bill Bradford, Utah State Univ. (United States)
Alan Marchant, Utah State Univ. (United States)
Cordell Wright, Utah State Univ. (United States)
Tom Apedaile, Utah State Univ. (United States)
Eve Fowles, Utah State Univ. (United States)
Allen Howard, Utah State Univ. (United States)
Tom Naini, Utah State Univ. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7460:
Lidar Remote Sensing for Environmental Monitoring X
Upendra N. Singh, Editor(s)

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