Different Fields That Use Ceilometers: Australia is known to have extreme weather conditions that have resulted in wildfires and storms, affecting the residents. As the national weather services established ceilometer networks, it commanded a debate over which researchers use this device to conduct aerosol research.
Although their primary use is designed to detect clouds, it has a wide range of uses in different disciplines. It is advantageous in measuring air quality, predicting snow, sensing weather, dust plume, etc.
Understanding the Functioning of a Ceilometer
A ceilometer is a device that researchers use to measure cloud thickness and height. Therefore, one of the most significant uses is to determine cloud ceilings at airports.
The device works all day and provides this information by shining an intense ray of ultraviolet or infrared light at the overhead clouds. They do this through a laser or a transmitter that is modulated at a specific audio frequency.
Different Fields That Use Ceilometers
A receiver with photocells detects the reflection of the light from the clouds to provide information about its height and thickness. This device is extensively used in the meteorology and aviation industry. There are two main types of ceilometers: the rotating transmitter and the scanning receiver.
1. A Rotating Transmitter
It is a ceilometer that has its receiver placed in a way that catches the direct reflections coming from overhead when the transmitter searches the sky. It provides accurate information on the position and height of a cloud directly over the receiver through a modulated beam that the receiver detects as it bounces back downwards.
2. A Scanning Receiver
A scanning receiver has a different laser transmitter that aims to direct the beam vertically. The receiver is separate from the transmitter as it is placed a certain distance away. The parabolically moving receiver scans the sky for beams, looking for points where the laser intersects with the base of the cloud.
When it reflects the light, the receiver detects it and measures the vertical angle to the position using a trigonometric calculation. This information provides the height of the cloud in the sky.
Various Applications of The Device
1. Detecting Air Quality
In addition to detecting the position of clouds, the device studies the local air quality and the aerosol concentrations of pollutants, precipitation or water vapour in the atmosphere. The backscatter effects of the laser provide this information.
It also shows the presence of particular gas concentrations, turbulence and changing wind speed. This feature helps researchers in the aviation industry and renewable energy field.
It can detect the properties of the layers present in the air as high as 15 kilometres above the ground allowing researchers to gain insight into the presence of materials in the mid and low-level layers of the atmosphere.
2. Wildfire Monitoring and Prevention
Ceilometers also play a significant role in detecting the unprecedented wildfires that occur in the grasslands and forests of Australia almost every summer. It provides information on the impact of wildfire on air quality.
It also helps monitor the presence of wildfire even 100 kilometres away as it signals the change in the aerosol count. Australian regions suffer from bushfires that typically originate in dried forest areas.
The device detects smoke plumes moving across the surrounding atmosphere, which could significantly impact people’s respiratory system and health and cause a hazard. Therefore, the device is crucial in forecasting fire, dust and the overall air quality under specific meteorological conditions.
3. Predicting Snow and Blizzards
Another unique application that ceilometers provide is detecting the severity of weather conditions during the winter. It can anticipate incoming blizzards and their intensity depending on their impact on the ground. The backscatter measurement allows researchers to differentiate between falling snow and blowing snow.
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