How lidar works

Lidar (light detection and ranging) devices model wind profiles by sending out signals and picking up the 'backscatter' created when these signals bounce off airborne particles in their path, much like a fine-grain radar system.

Unlike radar, which can only track the speed of a relatively large object, lidar can detect microscopic aerosols — typically measuring 1.5 micrometres — carried in the wind. The motion of these particles relative to the lidar device translates into a change in wavelength linked to a so-called 'Doppler shift' in the backscatter, from which wind movement can be calculated.

Measuring the motion of aerosols means you measure the motion of the air, providing computations including direction, flow inclination, turbulence, and shear.