Measuring the Wind From Miles Away




Dr. Shane Mayor, assistant professor in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences at Chico State, is a leader in the field of laser remote sensing. Dr. Mayor and his research group, composed of students, alumni, and working professionals, are studying fluid dynamics in laboratories, measuring the wind from miles away using atmospheric lidars, the optical counterparts to radars.

Since 2009, more than $1.3 million has been awarded to Chico State by the National Science Foundation to advance and evaluate this approach to wind measurement. The team has conducted multiple experiments at the CSU Chico Farm that serves as an excellent testing area due to its large open fields and unobstructed views. The team has also developed algorithms and licenses software to partners in the commercial sector, as well as the Department of Defense, to deduce the motion of potentially hazardous plumes.

The capability has strong potential with broad commercial value, particularly in agricultural spraying operations, wildfire suppression, airport safety, or anywhere that remote wind data is needed.

The technology is likely to be transformative in the atmospheric sciences owing to its ability to reveal the wind field, especially in environments where it is difficult to deploy traditional wind sensors. This wind data can be used to test models and theories that help predict weather and climate.