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The signal-processing techniques for obtaining the velocity estimates and the fundamental factors that influence coherent lidar performance are considered. The similarities and distinctions between Doppler lidar and Doppler radars are discussed. The capability of coherent Doppler lidars for mapping wind fields over selected regions in the lower atmosphere and greatly enhancing the capability to visualize flow patterns in real time is discussed, and examples are given. Salient features of a concept for an Earth-orbiting Doppler lidar to be launched in the late 1990s are examined.