Lidar, short for “Light Detection and Ranging,” is like a superpower for measuring distances. It’s a technology that uses laser beams to bounce off objects and create detailed 3D maps of the world around us. Imagine it as if you’re using a laser tape measure, but with incredible precision and speed.
Cartographer Dan Coe uses Lidar in fascinating ways, showcasing rivers and deltas in high resolution that wouldn’t be possibly with traditional means.
Lidar can measure distances down to the centimeter level, allowing scientists to create highly accurate maps of natural features.
This precision is vital for studying the ever-changing shapes of rivers and deltas. Lidar works incredibly fast, sending out thousands of laser pulses per second.
This speed is crucial when capturing data from moving bodies of water, like rivers, as it helps create real-time or near-real-time maps. Unlike traditional photography, lidar can “see” through things like vegetation and water.
This ability is handy when you want to map the ground or underwater features beneath the surface.
Below are some of our favorite images from Coe’s collection. See more of Dan Coe’s stunning work on his website.
Scientists can use Lidar to monitor changes in natural systems over time. By comparing Lidar scans from different moments, they can track how rivers shift, deltas grow or shrink, and other changes in the environment.
So, in simple terms, Lidar is a high-tech mapping tool that uses laser beams to create super-accurate 3D maps of nature. It’s like a magical eye that helps scientists understand and protect our natural world better.