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APAESO: Autonomous Flying Platforms for Atmospheric and Earth Surface Observations

APAESOIt is anticipated that the Eastern Mediterranean (EM) will be disproportionally and adversely affected by climate change, adding to the environmental stresses caused by high concentrations of air pollutants and desert dust particles. Important prerequisites for monitoring, understanding and ultimately predicting changes in the Earth System involve comprehensive environmental observations on a high spatial and temporal resolution. While ground based and in-situ measurements usually provide the highest accuracy and reliability, they are hampered by their scanty coverage in space and time. Satellite remote sensing observations offer the advantage of near global and continuous temporal coverage. However, their spatial resolution is mostly limited and satellite measurements usually represent an integral over large columns of the atmosphere, thus lacking vertical resolution. Using airplanes helps to alleviate many of the limitations of ground-based and satellite observations. However, their utilization is usually restricted by extremely high costs per flight hour and constrained observing times. Autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (AUAVs) offer a promising alternative. Their small size and weight enable a relatively large range at moderate fuel demand. Being operated autonomously allows systematic surveys over long distances and over relatively long time periods.

We propose to equip and deploy a small fleet of such platforms, i.e. initially four Autonomous Flying Platforms for Atmospheric and Earth Surface Observations (APAESO), for the dual purpose of carrying out atmospheric and Earth-surface observations. This enables the simultaneous acquisition of atmospheric data at different heights and/or surface observations along a number of horizontal parallel flight lines. This will significantly enhance the versatility of these platforms. APAESO will be utilized for carrying out 3D measurements aimed to determine: physical and chemical atmospheric properties, aerosol and dust concentrations and atmospheric dynamics as well as 2D investigations into: surface morphology, vegetation and land use patterns, archaeological site reconnaissance, contaminant detection and ocean surface properties (biology, waves, currents) at high spatial resolution. This will be achieved by employing modular instrument packages addressing various application areas.

The proposed platforms will yield new insights into atmospheric and Earth surface conditions over Cyprus and the EM at an unprecedented coverage in space and time, and will allow routine monitoring of changes in these conditions through repeat surveys. Data will be integrated into- or serve as boundary conditions/ verification for numerous model applications aimed at better understanding and predicting global environmental changes. AUAVs, aside from military applications, have mostly been employed for atmospheric measurements. APAESO will greatly expand the utility of such platforms by broadening their range of applications. The development of light-weight, miniaturized sensors will likely lead to spin-offs for the high-tech industry in Cyprus. This facility for atmospheric and Earth-surface observations  is mastered only by few places in Europe.

CyI Researchers:

Dr. Stelios Ioannou

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tel.: +357 222 08 676

Dr. Christos Keleshis

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tel.: +357 222 08 659

rpflogos

Additional Info

  • Acronym: APAESO
  • Center: EEWRC
  • Funding Source: Reseach Promotion Foundation, Cyprus
  • CyI Funding: 689.300€
  • Funding Period: 4 years
  • Starting Date: 15/12/2008
  • End Date: 14/12/2012
  • Coordinator: CyI/EEWRC
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