UPDATE: Laser light system among armada of tools in TORUS

The unabridged version of this story appears on the University of Oklahoma College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences website and was produced in collaboration with OU CIMMS. This is an updated version of “Laser light system among the armada of tools in TORUS,” which originally ran on June 3, 2019.

Elizabeth Smith, researcher with OU CIMMS supporting NOAA NSSL, preparing the LiDAR system for operation during a storm. (Photo by Mike Coniglio/NOAA NSSL)

Researcher Elizabeth Smith Smith is a researcher at the University of Oklahoma Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies researcher supporting NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory and an OU School of Meteorology alumna.  TORUS, or the Targeted Observation by Radars and UAS of Supercells project aims at understanding the relationships between severe thunderstorms and tornado formation.

Smith utilizes a lidar system during TORUS, which stands for Light Detection And Ranging. Unlike radar systems, which use electromagnetic waves, lidar utilizes laser light.

The lidar is one of many instruments utilized in TORUS — a month long project in 2019 funded by the National Science Foundation and NOAA. TORUS will continue in 2020. In total, over 20 hours of lidar wind observations were collected during the 2019 TORUS campaign.

“We saw interesting turbulence structure in the wind field,” Smith said. “We don’t know what that means just yet, but this is unprecedented data because this specific lidar is faster than those used in past field projects.”

The lidar team looks forward to sharing preliminary findings at the 100th Annual AMS meeting in January.

To read the full story and updated results, visit the OU College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences website.

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