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LiDAR is the new game changer

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Earlier this week, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, 5Cs launched its latest tool at the Sir Barry Bowen Municipal Airport. The Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) system is the new game changer in the fight against climate change.  Love news spoke with Albert Jones, the Instrumentation Officer for the 5Cs who shared how the system will work.

Albert Jones Instrumentation Officer 5C’s: “LIDAR is light laser beams that are emitted in pulses that would leave the equipment, find a target on the ground and we are talking about airborne instrumentation so we will fly at eye safe level of above 2000 ft above the ground, meaning above earth and that way we will be in the eye safe mode. So we will be sending out laser pulses to the ground and we will be capturing those return echoes and reflections from the light and its these collection of returns that actually will form a perfect image of exactly what is reflected from the ground and collected by the detector and in the data collections system. So we will be sending out individual pulses to the spot and as the aircraft flies over specific flight lines it will be collecting those returns as they progress over the area of concern that we will be doing in repeated missions.”

Jones added that the data gathered by using the equipment will help the authorities to make better informed decisions as it relates to climate change.

Albert Jones Instrumentation Officer 5C’s: “Well, we are talking, not necessarily going into mitigation of climate change. What we are talking about is how we will need to address climate change as a whole, even in an adaptation aspect. We know that with information you can make decisions so specifically if you have areas of concern where you have encroaching coastlines where you are losing coastline like in the case of what we have in the Monkey River area in Belize because of coastal erosion, you need to have certain adaptation efforts put in place to combat that movement of the coast line. This will give you the exact readings of what’s happening there now. Iit can give you at any subsequent time when you go do a second survey it will tell you the speed of the movement. We can attest to that. The people might be able to tell you that they have been monitoring it for years and this is the rate of change that they have seen but this will give you a more accurate readout of what’s happening and from that the engineers will be able to calculate how they can put specific processes in place so they can in that event mitigate some of the actions that is happening.”

Jones explained that there will be several exercise conducted and by early next year the system is expected to be in full operation.

Albert Jones Instrumentation Officer 5C’s:As far as data capture in this exercise that we will be running: we will have a pilot and what we call a task manager. The pilot of course will be flying the plane along the specific flight plan that has been designed by the task master. The task master in this case will be myself and Mr. Gilharry that are part of the 5C’s original team and in the moment we will be the ones that will be actually collecting the data for these specific flights.”

The aircraft will travel throughout the Caribbean to conduct mapping and surveys. It is expected to be fully operational by early next year. USAID paid for the LiDAR system at a tune of US $2 million dollars. Meanwhile, the Caribbean Development Bank and the Government of Italy is picking up the tab of executing these operations.

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