DOST to tap high-tech LiDAR program to battle dry spell

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In this file photo, DOST sec. Mario G. Montejo (front) pours champagne moments before the LiDAR-equipped aircraft took off as UP President Alfredo E. Pascual (right) and UP Diliman Chancellor Caesar A. Saloma (middle) look on In this file photo, DOST sec. Mario G. Montejo (front) pours champagne moments before the LiDAR-equipped aircraft took off as UP President Alfredo E. Pascual (right) and UP Diliman Chancellor Caesar A. Saloma (middle) look on[/caption] LiDAR, which is short for Light Detection And Ranging, was launched by the DOST to obtain spatial information for accurate weather forecasting. This is done through aerial mapping carried out by aircrafts operated by the University of the Philippines. The LiDAR project is also a component of Project Noah?s Disaster Risk and Exposure Assessment for Mitigation or Dream program. Some 79 provinces around the country will be hit by El Ni?o before 2015 ends, according to DOST secretary Mario G. Montejo. ?The El Ni?o phenomenon will be at its worst this year,? Montejo said in Ozamiz City during the first stage of the Science Nation Tour in Northern Mindanao last Aug 20. Montejo said that starting September, 12 provinces will begin in to experience dry conditions that are below normal. ?By October, dry spell and drought conditions will affect 29 provinces, and by the end of the year, the number will rise to 79,? he said. Although food security and health are priority concerns in the government?s preparation for the El Ni?o, Montejo said the DOST is also taking the opportunity to collect rainwater to mitigate the effects of the drought. Currently, the science chief said only one-fourth of the total amount of rainfall is captured and utilized for various purposes, primarily in agriculture. He said the DOST is aiming to increase the yield to at least one-half through the help of LiDAR. Momtejo said the LiDAR project can contribute significantly is identifying the areas where rain will be abundant. The local government units concerned and government agencies can then prepare and gather the rainwater for storage and eventual distribution. ]]>

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