Watch­ing how the winds blow

Pretoria News Weekend - - NEWS -

BER­LIN: Europe plans to launch a satel­lite on Wed­nes­day that will use new laser tech­nol­ogy to mea­sure the winds sweep­ing across Earth and help sci­en­tists fore­cast changes in weather more ac­cu­rately.

The Ae­o­lus mis­sion will pro­vide sci­en­tists with data on winds in re­mote ar­eas, such as over oceans, that they have not been able to get from weather bal­loons, ground sta­tions and air­craft but which are cru­cial to pre­dict­ing changes in weather.

“Fore­cast­ing is of course still limited, but then we will cer­tainly be able to un­der­stand the pro­cesses bet­ter that lead to ex­treme weather phe­nom­ena,” Paolo Ferri, the Euro­pean Space Agency’s (ESA) head of mis­sion oper­a­tions, said ahead of the launch.

Many sci­en­tists warn that global warm­ing will re­sult in more fre­quent and in­tense heat­waves, pre­cip­i­ta­tion and storms, caus­ing bil­lions of eu­ros in dam­age and cost­ing thou­sands of hu­man lives ev­ery year.

Bet­ter weather fore­casts will al­low sci­en­tists to warn the pop­u­la­tion when hur­ri­canes are head­ing their way and pre­dict weather pat­terns such as El Niño, which can cause crop dam­age, fires and flash floods.

The Ae­o­lus mis­sion is sched­uled to blast off from Europe’s space port in Kourou, French Guiana. – Reuters

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