The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has designed and built a mobile light detection and ranging (LiDAR) lab that will be operating at the University of Zululand, in Richards Bay, KwaZulu-Natal.
The university will be the second in South Africa to have and operate a LiDAR system, which is housed in a container.
The atmospheric laser radar is an instrument that uses powerful technologies for active remote sensing of the earth’s atmosphere. It uses laser pulses to measure atmospheric constituents, such as aerosol particles, water vapour, clouds and ice crystals, as well as some gases.
The LiDAR system will be used to provide profiles of aerosols from the surface to the upper troposphere in the uMhlathuze region. The LiDAR measurements contribute significantly to activities such as weather forecasting, climate modelling and environmental monitoring.
The research project is led by University of Zululand researcher Dr Nkanyiso Mbatha and University of KwaZulu-Natal Professor Sivakumar Venkataraman.
Mbatha says the uMhlathuze local municipality is a region with high industrial activity, which could lead to changes in local air quality and other environmental issues.
The locally based mobile LiDAR system will assist the municipality in monitoring the air quality of the region.
The system was tested and evaluated, reaching satisfactory measurements in heights of up to 15 km.
The LiDAR system will be commissioned during July.