An LES-Based Airborne Doppler Lidar Simulator and its Application to Wind Profiling in Inhomogeneous Flow Conditions

Phillpp Gasch, Andreas Wieser, Julie Lundquist, Norbert Kalthoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus Citations


Wind profiling by Doppler lidar is common practice and highly useful in a wide range of applications. Airborne Doppler lidar can provide additional insights relative to ground-based systems by allowing for spatially distributed and targeted measurements. Providing a link between theory and measurement, a first large eddy simulation (LES)-based airborne Doppler lidar simulator (ADLS) has been developed. Simulated measurements are conducted based on LES wind fields, considering the coordinate and geometric transformations applicable to real-world measurements. The ADLS provides added value as the input truth used to create the measurements is known exactly, which is nearly impossible in real-world situations. Thus, valuable insight can be gained into measurement system characteristics as well as retrieval strategies. As an example application, airborne Doppler lidar wind profiling is investigated using the ADLS. For commonly used airborne velocity azimuth display (AVAD) techniques, flow homogeneity is assumed throughout the retrieval volume, a condition which is violated in turbulent boundary layer flow. Assuming an ideal measurement system, the ADLS allows to isolate and evaluate the error in wind profiling which occurs due to the violation of the flow homogeneity assumption. Overall, the ADLS demonstrates that wind profiling is possible in turbulent wind field conditions with reasonable errors (root mean squared error of 0.36?m?s-1 for wind speed when using a commonly used system setup and retrieval strategy for the conditions investigated). Nevertheless, flow inhomogeneity, e.g., due to boundary layer turbulence, can cause an important contribution to wind profiling error and is non-negligible. Results suggest that airborne Doppler lidar wind profiling at low wind speeds (<5ms-1) can be biased, if conducted in regions of inhomogeneous flow conditions.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1609-1631
Number of pages23
JournalAtmospheric Measurement Techniques
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2020

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-74195


  • Doppler lidar simulator
  • inhomogenous flow conditions
  • wind
  • wind profiling


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