Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New Technology May Help Olympic Sailing: Doppler Lidar More Accurately Shows Which Way the Wind Blows

A team of researchers at the Ocean University of China has developed and tested a mobile lidar (light detection and ranging) station that can accurately measure wind speed and direction over large areas in real time -- an application useful for aviation safety, weather forecasting and sports.

As described in the July 1 issue of the journal Optics Letters, published by the Optical Society, the mobile lidar station can measure wind fields more accurately, which could help world-class athletes compete in international competitions, such as the Olympics. Ocean University is in Qingdao, which is hosting the sailing competitions of the XXIX Olympic Games and the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, and this technique is being tested in conjunction with the event.

"Wind is non-uniform even in a small sailing field," says Professor Zhi-Shen Liu of the Key Laboratory of Ocean Remote Sensing, Ministry of Education of China, Ocean University of China, who led the research. "Athletes could maximize their performances if they have the most accurate information to help them capture the wind."

In Olympic sailing, individual competitors or teams of athletes sail various classes of sailboats in timed trials over a single course. The contest requires them to navigate upwind, downwind and everything in between. Their final time depends on numerous factors, including the boat design, the skill of the sailors, course difficulty and ocean currents. Perhaps the most important factor, though, is how well the athletes can harness the wind that fills their sails.

Because wind constantly changes speed and direction, athletes and coaches hope to have the best information at the start of a run. On cloudy, rainy days, the standard meteorological tool of Doppler radar can accurately provide wind field information. When no clouds are present, however, Doppler radar is ineffective. The best wind data on clear days comes from ocean buoys and land stations that use wind cups and ultrasonic anemometers to measure wind speed.

In the Qingdao sailing area, where this summer's competitions will take place, only four buoys, one boat and one tower are available to measure sea surface winds within a competition area of approximately 10 square kilometers.

Liu and his lidar group, composed of research scientists and graduate students, have been working with an optical remote sensing technology called Doppler lidar, which they are applying for weather and environmental research. Lidar works by scattering laser beams off atmospheric aerosols or molecules. Doppler lidar takes advantage of the fact that when these aerosols or molecules are moving in the wind, the scattered laser light changes frequency -- the same way an approaching car has a higher pitched sound than a car driving away.

The advantage of Doppler lidar, says Liu, is that it can quickly sample a large area, providing a much finer map of winds than buoys alone. He and his group have developed a lidar bus, which can move equipment to the experiment field conveniently.

Last year, they successfully tested their new bus at the 2007 Qingdao International Regatta sailing event. They moved the bus to the seashore near the sailing field, and made a horizontal scan over the sea surface, making the measurement in real time and then uploading the data to the local meteorological station every 10 minutes. They envision a similar effort in the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic games.

The research was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Key Laboratory of Ocean Remote Sensing, the Ministry of Education of China and the China Meteorological Administration (CMA).

Paper: "A high spatial and temporal resolution mobile incoherent Doppler lidar for sea surface wind measurements" by Zhi-Shen Liu et al., Optics Letters, Vol. 33, No. 13, July 1, 2008 p. 1485-1487. For a copy of the paper, please contact Angela Stark, or 202.416.1443.

About OSA
Uniting more than 70,000 professionals from 134 countries, the Optical Society (OSA) brings together the global optics community through its programs and initiatives. Since 1916 OSA has worked to advance the common interests of the field, providing educational resources to the scientists, engineers and business leaders who work in the field by promoting the science of light and the advanced technologies made possible by optics and photonics. OSA publications, events, technical groups and programs foster optics knowledge and scientific collaboration among all those with an interest in optics and photonics.

Angela Stark | newswise
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Sharpening the X-ray view of the nanocosm
23.03.2018 | Changchun Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics and Physics

nachricht Drug or duplicate?
23.03.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Festkörperphysik IAF

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

New solar solutions for sustainable buildings and cities

23.03.2018 | Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

For graphite pellets, just add elbow grease

23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Unique communication strategy discovered in stem cell pathway controlling plant growth

23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Sharpening the X-ray view of the nanocosm

23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>