UPEI Climate Lab begins summer 2016 field research season
The Climate Research Lab at UPEI has begun its summer field season by flying its fleet of drones over Prince Edward Island. The drones are taking high-resolution images of the land to study how climate change is impacting PEI’s coasts.
The Climate Lab has three drones presently, with plans to purchase a fourth. A fixed wing drone that the Lab calls MAGGIE (Model Airplane Gathering Geographical Information on the Environment) has a one-and-a-half meter wide wingspan and carries sophisticated instruments such as LiDAR: a safe laser that sees through vegetation to measure the bare earth. The two others are quad-copter drones that can provide stable images during PEI’s high wind events.
“We’ll be surveying the coasts from the air across Prince Edward Island in order to study the effects of coastal erosion on our shores,” said Dr. Adam Fenech, director of the Climate Research Lab. “Our Climate Lab’s graduate students will be flying their model airplanes and helicopters all summer long. They will be capturing valuable information that will be used to make decisions on how to best adapt to climate change.”
Support for the work of the Climate Research Lab comes from several groups. The province of Prince Edward Island supports several graduate students working in the lab. It also provides funding and expertise for the aerial surveys with MAGGIE.
“Our inventory of coastal erosion is an excellent example of how the provincial government and the university are coming together to address climate change,” said Robert Mitchell, PEI Minister of Communities, Land and Environment. “Expertise in climate change science at the university is assisting the province in assessing areas of high vulnerability and the best ways to respond to these risks.”
In addition to the aerial survey work, the UPEI Climate Lab is being assisted by the province to conduct:
- Erosion assessments of more than 100 sensitive coastal sites across the province;
- Assessment of blade erosion on wind turbines exposed to the PEI elements at North Cape;
- A comparison of various shoreline armouring techniques to guard against coastal erosion on properties; and
- An erosion study of the iconic sand dunes in Prince Edward Island National Park.
Funding for the drone aerial surveys also comes from the Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response (MEOPAR) network which supports new technology for monitoring and visualizing the impacts of sea-level rise, erosion, and storm surges in costal environments. It supports five graduate students at UPEI.
The Climate Research Lab could be gathering data at a site near you! For more information, contact the lab at email@example.com or 902-620-5221.