Although weather forecasts have improved steadily over the recent decades, the prediction models on which those forecasts are based are limited by a lack of wind measurements over many parts of the globe. Large uncertainties remain in three-dimensional wind data over the oceans, the Southern Hemisphere, and polar and tropical regions. Improved three-dimensional wind data throughout the troposphere (the lowest 8 to 16 kilometers of the atmosphere) would yield concrete benefits, including better day-to-day weather forecasts as well as improved forecasts of hurricane track and intensity, and the transport of air pollutants.
3D-Winds will measure the tropospheric wind fields using two complementary Doppler wind lidars: one in the near-infrared range, well suited for measuring winds in the presence of dust, pollution, or other airborne particles, and the other in the ultraviolet range, detecting molecular-scale Doppler shifts in order to measure winds in air that is relatively pristine. Together, the system will be able to collect wind data across most tropospheric and stratospheric conditions.