A WInd VElocity Radar Nephoscope for observing global winds, clouds and precipitation

Breaking news: WIVERN now entering phase A


Accurate weather forecasts are important to our daily lives, and in particular in support of emergency management during severe weather events. Wind, cloud and precipitation belong to the fundamental variables in NWP models, and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has defined in particular the lack of globally distributed direct wind observations as one of the main deficits of the current WMO Global Observing System. WIVERN will be the first space-based mission to provide in-cloud winds, and hence contribute to filling the gap in the current WMO Global Observing System to the benefit of NWP and climate research. WIVERN will also provide high-resolution reflectivity profiles of rain, snow and ice water, which can be used to achieve a better quantification of the Earth’s hydrological cycle and energy budgets, given the significant reduction in sampling errors compared to current and future cloud radar missions.

Science objectives

  1. To deepen our knowledge of global winds. This will be achieved by measuring, for the first time, global vertically-resolved in-cloud winds to:
    • Help fill a critical gap in the global observing system, by providing near real-time wind observations in cloudy stratiform conditions, including tropical cyclones and mid-latitude wind-storms for the benefit of Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP).
    • Contribute to our understanding of Earth’s atmosphere and dynamics by the first-ever vertically resolved in-cloud wind climatology record.
  2. To provide vertically-resolved microphysical properties of cloud and precipitation systems by measuring the reflectivity profiles and co-located brightness temperatures with unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution, to contribute:
    • Near real-time observations for the benefit of NWP and climate models.
    • Some of the Essential Climate Variables (ECVs) for climatological regional studies of Precipitation and Clouds in the 2030s.
  3. Most forecast centres are planning a new generation of global models by 2030 with kilometric resolution and explicit representation of convection. WIVERN should be able:
    • To enhance the understanding of convective clouds detection and classification.
    • To evaluate the realism of the next generation of numerical models underpinning global NWP and climate model.


WIVERN concept: a dual-polarization Doppler conically scanning 94 GHz radar measuring line-of-sight winds and reflectivity profiles with 640 m vertical resolution, an 800 km wide swath and an average global revisit time of 1.5 days (equator) and 1 day (> 50°lat.). The CloudSat climatology of cloud reflectivities predicts that between one and two million winds should be observed each day that satisfy the WMO “goal” of 2 m/s precision.

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