Atmospheric Systems Corporation

SoDAR Applications

SoDAR has a variety of applications. While those listed below are not the full extent of their use, they represent some commonly used scenarios. If you have an interesting application where SoDAR is used and you would like to see it on our site, please contact us and we will be in contact with you about adding it.

Wind Energy

Wind Energy has brought new life to the wind measurement industry, including SoDAR. With wind turbine hub heights reaching over 100m and blade spans of up to 80m, measurements across the entire blade swept area are becoming critical. SoDAR provides that information and ASC’s SoDARs offer more.

Typically, wind energy looks at wind speed and wind direction with the use of 60m towers. These tower measurements just barely break into the lower portion of the blade swept area. This data is then used to project the wind speed at the hub height of a turbine (not even the entire blade swept area). Since large scale wind farms have been consistently under producing, the need for real information across the blades of a turbine is mandatory, both prior to installation and during operation. SoDAR in general provides this information and more (like vertical velocities). More specifically, ASC’s SoDARs include a look at atmospheric structure, directional wind shear, velocity wind shear, component velocities, and turbulence all capable of being provided in real-time. This information can be used for site suitability analysis, operating performance analysis, and power production analysis. With an ASC SoDAR, this critical information can be streamed directly to the desks of the decision maker with no delay.

The Space Shuttle

For decades, ASC SoDARs have streamed data straight to the shuttle war room. This information is critical for fueling and launch information. Even the presence of short wind gust can have disastrous consequences. Knowing this information is of the utmost importance. Without this data, fuel lines can become detached from the shuttle. Also, during the sensitive first moments of the shuttle launch, a gust could knock the shuttle off course. The use of SoDAR provides the answer to monitoring these conditions.

Emergency Response – Specifically Fire

In many instances, emergency response teams are impacted by wind conditions. This holds especially true for firefighters. Fires have a tendency to create their own weather patterns swirling wind and creating turbulence.

SoDAR provides an easily deployable monitoring device that can help teams understand where the fires are headed and how best to combat them. This information can help reduce fatalities and structural damage. The real-time look at the wind conditions is utilized to make critical decisions on how to proceed and when to back off. The remote capabilities allow for the monitoring to be in danger zones without endangering people.


SoDAR provides critical information on several fronts for airports as well. This information is both weather related and plane related. Since lives are at risk, timeliness of information is of the utmost importance.

A type of weather phenomenon called “microbursts” can produce extremely strong wind shear, posing great danger to aircraft. These are local, short-lived downdrafts that radiate outward as they rush toward the ground. As a downdraft spreads down and outward from a cloud, it creates an increasing headwind over the wings of an oncoming aircraft. This headwind causes a sudden leap in airspeed, and the plane lifts. If the pilots are unaware that this speed increase is caused by wind shear, they are likely to react by reducing engine power. However, as the plane passes through the shear, the wind quickly becomes a downdraft and then a tailwind. This reduces the speed of air over the wings, and the extra lift and speed vanish. Because the plane is now flying on reduced power, it is vulnerable to sudden loss of airspeed and altitude. The pilots may be able to escape the microburst by adding power to the engines. But if the shear is strong enough, they may be forced to crash land. Hundreds of fatalities and injuries have result from this phenomena.

Another event that can be detected using SODAR technology is the wake vortex that is produced by aircraft during landing. The persistence of some of these wakes along the landing runway has resulted in the loss of aircraft following behind other aircraft. Most often the situation is associated with a smaller aircraft following a larger aircraft (such as a 747 or equivalent).

During the past 10 years Doppler SODAR has demonstrated its ability to detect the strong upward and downward motion that is characteristic of these vortices. The detection of the presence of the wake vortex as well as being able to monitor the duration of the wake vortex is a critical feature for a monitoring system. This reduces the risk of accidents and can make airport throughput more efficient.

Alternative designs of the SODAR are also capable of real time monitoring of the ability of the atmosphere to sustain these vortices. It is well known that there are certain atmospheric conditions during which these wake vortices persist and other conditions during which they decay rapidly or are transported away from the runway.