UWI hires consultant for LIDAR data project

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The University of the West Indies (The UWI) signed a contract with geo-data specialists Fugro Geoid SAS earlier this month to use Light Detection and Ranging Data (LIDAR) to assess coastal vulnerability and conduct climate analysis related to sea-level rise, storm surges and flooding in the Caribbean.

LIDAR is a remote-sensing technology that uses light in pulsed laser form to measure variable distances from the Earth. The airborne system also collects other data simultaneously and generates precise three-dimensional information about the shape and surface characteristics of the area being assessed. The two types of LIDAR are topographic, which maps land surfaces, and bathymetric, which measures sea floor and elevation of riverbeds. LIDAR technology provides a wide-range of applications ranging from climate monitoring, meteorology, agriculture, construction, and planning.

The project, valued at US$1.9 million, will be implemented between Jamaica and Haiti where some 2,500 square kilometres of vulnerable coastal environments between the two countries will be examined. The data collected will support the planning and design of climate-resilient infrastructure, coastal zone management, climate hazard assessments and improved strategies for disaster risk management, the parties have said.

The assignment is funded through the Investment Plan for the Caribbean Regional Track of the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR) which is being executed through The UWI Mona Office for Research and Innovation. Overall financing for the PPCR is provided by the Climate Investment Funds, through the Inter-American Development Bank.

The PPCR project team says the LIDAR data collection exercise will add to the stock of data currently available to the region to further strengthen climate resilience and ongoing adaptation planning. It is also expected to provide geospatial data for nearshore or coastal areas, which includes information on the depth, width and flow of water, which is useful in spatial and development planning for low-lying, flood-prone areas.

“LIDAR data acquisition is a critical strategy in using research and technology to improve regional resilience. We anticipate that LIDAR technology will increasingly be used in the Caribbean, as it provides significant advantages in providing accurate information in support of resilience planning for coastal defences and putting in place mechanisms to ensure our physical resources can better withstand the impacts of climate change,” said programme manager for the PPCR, Ainsley Henry.

The contract signing took place at the office of the principal on May 8, with data collection and processing expected to commence in June.

The Planning Institute of Jamaica, the national focal point for the PPCR, will collaborate with the consultants to ensure the data collected correspond with local stakeholder needs. At the end of the exercise, scheduled for October, 2019, the project will train government technocrats in six Caribbean countries in the applications of LIDAR .

The PPCR is a five-year project mandated to build the region’s resilience to climate change through work in research, policy, and applied climate change adaptation activities at the national and regional levels.

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