Shelters from the storm: How wind lidar is keeping ports safe and operational

Shelters from the storm: How wind lidar is keeping ports safe and operational
Weather & Environment

(For more, see "Ports in a Storm," co-authored by Ludovic Thobois and Remy Parmentier of Leosphere, a Vaisala company, in Meteorological Technology International.)

Seaports are vulnerable by their nature. Continually exposed to the elements, they are also typically near urban areas, making gales, thunderstorms, and other phenomena both common and dangerous. Moreover, disruptions to shipping cause secondary disruptions to commerce, jobs, and a city’s wellbeing.

Today, a promising multinational study is showing how lidar can be used for updating decades-old forecast models — and creating brand-new ones — for use in port construction and operations.

Project Thunderr

In Europe, a 50-year-old model exists for forecasting the effects of cyclones on ports, but there is no model for thunderstorms — and of course no unified model that accounts for both.

Because of this, the Department of Civil, Chemical and Environmental Engineering (DICCA) at the University of Genoa (UNIGE) recently carried out a study to understand wind fields and optimize thunderstorm forecasting. This initial study was expanded (and joined by agencies in Germany, the Netherlands, and Canada) into Project Thunderr, an ongoing collaboration that is leveraging wind lidar to improve thunderstorm research and improve port construction and structure design.

The project is using the WindCube Scan 400S, which provides 3D scanning at ranges up to 10km from the shore. Project leaders hope to study 25 thunderstorms by the time Project Thunderr ends in 2022, providing extensive data that might enable everything from wind tunnel testing of new building designs to new classifications for the types and severity of storm-related structural damage.

With this new research, ports all around the world — and the cities they serve — will become better protected against whatever nature throws their way.

Read the full article as published in Meteorological Technology International here.