The PCL is a laser radar (lidar) which operates from the Echo Base
Observatory located at Western's Environmental Science Field Station located near London, Ontario, Canada at 43.1° N, -81.34° W, (elevation 275 m above sea level; for directions to Echo Base click here.).
The powerful laser emits pulses of light as bright as simultaneously
turning on 1 million 75 W light bulbs! The laser light scatters off air
molecules. The reflected light is collected by a large telescope formed
by rotating liquid mercury at 10 r.p.m. in a 2.65 m diameter container.
The liquid mirror technology has been made practical by innovative work
performed at Université Laval in Québec City. The
measurements allow air density, pressure, temperature and composition
(for instance, water vapour) to be measured. These measurements will be
used to address the question of global warming in addition to
contributing to our ability to predict weather.
The PCL research project is headed by Professor Robert J. Sica of the Physics Department at the
University of Western Ontario.
This work is primarily supported by the Natural Science and
Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).