In 1992 the atmospheric lidar remote sensing groups of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Marshall Space Flight Center, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Environmental Technology Laboratory (NOAA/ETL), and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory began a joint collaboration to develop an airborne high-energy Doppler laser radar (lidar) system for atmospheric research and satellite validation and simulation studies. The result is the Multicenter Airborne Coherent Atmospheric Wind Sensor (MACAWS), which has the capability to remotely sense the distribution of wind and absolute aerosol backscatter in three-dimensional volumes in the troposphere and lower stratosphere.

A factor critical to the programmatic feasibility and technical success of this collaboration has been the utilization of existing components and expertise that were developed for previous atmospheric research by the respective institutions. For example, the laser transmitter is that of the mobile ground-based Doppler lidar system developed and used in atmospheric research for more than a decade at NOAA/ETL.

The motivation for MACAWS is threefold: 1) to obtain fundamental measurements of subsynoptic-scale processes and features to improve subgrid-scale parameterizations in large-scale models, 2) to obtain datasets in order to improve the understanding of and predictive capabilities for meteorological systems on subsynoptic scales, and 3) to validate (simulate) the performance of existing (planned) satellite-borne sensors.

Initial flight tests were made in September 1995; subsequent flights were made in June 1996 following system improvements. This paper describes the MACAWS instrument, principles of operation, examples of measurements over the eastern Pacific Ocean and western United States, and future applications.

This content is only available as a PDF.


*Global Hydrology and Climate Center, NASA/George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama.

+University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, Alabama.

#NOAA/Environmental Technology Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado.

@Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

&NASA/George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama.