The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre has acquired a Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) System, which will help in the fight against climate change. The system was funded by USAID. At today's launch Christopher Dixon, Mission Director, USAID/Eastern and Southern Caribbean addressed the gathering.

Living In The Lidar Era

The 5 C's Center, known as the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre today launched a 2 million US dollar LiDAR System. It's cutting edge technology and we found out more at the launching today:..

Jules Vasquez- Reporter
"How does it feel to know that the 5C's is now on par with NOA and NASA in terms of having this technology available at its disposal?"

Dr. Leonard Nurse- Chairman, 5C's
"Well, it is a singular honour for the 5C's, I believe, to be able to acquire this technology. There are many developed countries that do not own or have this technology themselves. So, to be able to pull this off, I think we owe a debt of gratitude to the executive director Dr. Kenrick Leslie because he is the one who almost single handedly, with his skills and know-how relating to Lidar technology, he is the one who piloted this process and saw it through from start to finish."

Dr. Kenrick Leslie- Director, Climate Change Center
"Today marks another major mile stone where for the first time technology that is only available in the more advanced countries like the United States but never in a developing country like Belize. We will have an airborne Lidar system. That is critical if we are to address the issues of resilience and sustainability, not just to climate change but in general. We need to understand the areas where and how we use our land, how we control our marine areas and so on."

Dr. Leonard Nurse - Chairman, 5C's
"In terms of planning, it is going to be used for the location of coastal settlements, where people live, to protect them from disasters like storm surge, to protect them from such threats. It is also going to be useful to identify those areas that are unstable and it can simultaneously collect data on a number of variables together."

Dr. Kenrick Leslie- Director, Climate Change Center
"So, since 2006 the center has been trying to find ways of how we can bring down this cost. Over the last 12 years, through different ways of trying things and so on, eventually, under a program with the United States Agency for International Development, we have been able to acquire a $2 million dollar state of the art system; system that is used by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration in the United States and NASA. So, we are at the top of the line. But, more importantly, we have developed the technical skills, where we can bring down the costs of doing that type of survey by a factor of 10. Therefore, we will be able to do it for all CARICOM countries at a cost that we can afford."

Dr. Leonard Nurse- Chairman, 5C's
"This is absolutely critical and this is beyond the 5C's because this is of absolute importance for the entire region. It provides a tool where we can now provide greater precision in our data analysis, particularly for coastal Lithosphere and near-shore topography, as well as in land, so that, it provides a tool where we can get very high quality, very high resolution data, which we could not acquire before. As a matter of fact, on those occasions where we required lidar data we had to acquire it from a company or contractor outside of the region at exceedingly high costs."

Dr. Kenrick Leslie- Director, Climate Change Center
"Maya Island Air has partnered with the center by providing a brand new plane specially designed in the interior to accommodate our system. Without that we would not have been able to do that. And I want to take off my hat to the management of Maya Island Air for affording us that service. That is why we are here today at the airport."

Chris Sosa- CEO, Maya Island Air
"In order to support the type of missions that he is seeking to carry out in Belize and across the Caribbean, we would have to procure and aircraft from Tetra Aviation. That is our primary contribution, being in support of the project of the 5C's, flying the missions and providing the maintenance support and avionics and instrumentation support in order to carry out these missions regardless of prevailing weather conditions."

Jules Vasquez
"So, it is a specialized aircraft?"

Chris Sosa
"Yes, absolutely; this aircraft is highly equipped with instruments that will allow it to fly under instrument flight rules, prevailing poor weather, that sort of thing. So, this piece of equipment is the most sophisticated that can be mounted onto this type of aircraft. This is a great project; historic for Belize, historic for the Caribbean and we are introducing a type of technology that is normally reserved for first world countries. That it is accessible in this region means that universities, scientific research communities, and private sector investment now have an opportunity to benefit considerably from its ease of access."

The launch was held at the Municipal Airstrip and the project is sponsored by USAID's C-CAP Project.

Channel 7

CCCCC launches its LiDar System

The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, through the U.S. AID-funded Climate Change Adaptation Programme, launched its Light Detection and Ranging system today in Belize City.  The system, known as LiDAR will help to significantly boost the Caribbean’s ability to limit the devastation of climate change by improving its capability to monitor and plan for physical changes to the land and marine environments. The two million-U.S.-dollar tech system has been fitted into a Cessna aircraft of Maya Island Air. The five-Cs is now in possession of this costly, specialized, highly tactical and technical system, for which two persons have been trained to operate it. News Five’s Andrea Polanco reports.

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

This brand new Cessna small Maya Island aircraft touching down may look like a part of its regular fleet – but it’s not. This aircraft is valued over three million U.S. dollars. That’s because it will not be transporting passengers – but it will be out doing invaluable survey to capture important data for decision making. So, this customized aircraft is fitted with the high-tech LiDar system –called Light Detection and Ranging. It is a sensing method that uses light in the form of laser to map land and sea floor.

Dr. Ulric Trotz, Deputy Director & Science Advisor, CCCCC

“One of the most important pieces of data that we lack particularly dealing with coastal development and coastal communities is what we call near shore bathymetry – that tells you where the depth of the sea is from your shore. And on shore topography that is the elevation. Now, near shore bathymetry is important because when a hurricane comes, the storm surge that you get depends very much on the sea floor and the depth, so with this equipment, we are now able to feed this new information into the storm surge models that we use. It would show that if you have a category two hurricane and a storm surge, which areas along your coast will be affected, so it can act as an early warning system.”

The piece of technology comes at a critical time when the region is need of more accurate data, as the need to provide evidence of climate change impacts has grown.

Dr. Omar Figueroa, Minister of Environment

“I must stress that incorporating this airborne LiDar system into our arsenal is a game-changing moment for the Caribbean Community. For us to adapt, we require information about the nature of climate risks. The collection of climate related data is especially important for Caribbean states since we are highly sensitive to changes in the climate and sea level rise. And we are experiencing the most severe effects of climate change sooner than most other countries.”

This Light Detection and Ranging system, which was acquired through the USAID’s three-year CCAP Project, is the only one of its kind in the region. Now that the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center owns this system, it will allow them to do more work without the high cost. And so the LiDar system will be used across the region and will help generate revenues for the CCCCC.

Dr. Ulric Trotz

“We can make a base-line and then return at different periods to see what changes have taken place in your ocean floor, in your shore line configuration. So, it is very important and the thing about it is that we have access to it but at what price? We couldn’t afford it. And what happens is that countries contract consultants from overseas with the equipment to do it. They collect the raw data, do the processes and give you outputs. The data doesn’t remain here and if you need that data again, you have to pay again. And it is very, very expensive. And we figured that having this, we can get countries to have access to this technology at about one tenth of the prince that they have to pay for it at this point in time.”

Andrea Polanco

“So, you’re also generating revenues from this?”

Dr. Ulric Trotz

“Well, our center receives no subventions from Government, so we have to earn our keep. So, this, we anticipate is going to be a revenue stream for the center.”

The Airborne LiDAR system is a significant achievement for data capture in the Caribbean – and it supported by local partner Maya Island Air for.

Chris Sosa, C.E.O., Maya Island Air

“Maya’s contribution is the aviation expertise in terms of bringing online factory new Cessna 206 aircraft; providing flight crew and the maintenance support to continue the program as it reaches beyond Belize’s shores.”

The LiDar can also be used for agriculture mapping, as well as to do surveys of mangrove ecosystems. Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

Channel 5

$17 M Airstrip on Seaside? Maybe Not?Last night we told you about the world class Lidar system that the Caribbean Climate Change Center in Belmopan is acquiring. It will inform planning throughout the Caribbean in terms of how to situate roads and communities to avoid the effects of climate change.

And perhaps fittingly the launch was held at the Municipal Airstrip - where over 10 million dollars was recently spent to build an airstrip right beside the rising sea. Dr. Kenrick Leslie seemed to think it was not such a good idea:..

Dr. Kenrick Leslie- Director, Climate Change Center
"Most of our infrastructure in the countries are along the coast and if we are to understand how sea level rise, hurricane surge and so on will impact us. So we can do proper engineering design. Engineers have been getting away over the years in designing roads and so on, by saying we don't have the proper data to do proper drainage and so on. This will allow to do detail topographic surveys that they can use as inputs in their design. We can't stop hurricanes, but we can reduce the impact by having the detail data that are required."

Jules Vasquez, reporter
"Explain to me, with this sort of technology, might even a place like this airstrip might have built in a different way?"

Dr. Kenrick Leslie- Director, Climate Change Center
"No, but we live with what we have today. However, that doesn't mean we have to live with this into the future and this is where it becomes critical. This airstrip will have a lifetime. However, future designs like our roads in this area should be better informed and therefore we should not repeat what we are doing today. This we can accept as today, meeting the needs of today."

The airstrip project cost 17 million dollars.

Channel 7