New UAV-based technology for air pollution (CyI, NORUT, DoM, CUT)

Atmospheric observations performed at ground level need to be assessed with complementary platforms that can characterize, for instance, long-range transported pollution that travels typically at several kilometres altitude. This transboundary pollution (desert dust, human-made pollution, etc.) will have a major impact on local radiative forcing, cloud formation/precipitation, or air quality if entering into the lower atmosphere over Cyprus. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are remotely controlled aircraft systems (e.g. flown by a pilot from a Ground Control Station (GCS)) or/and can fly autonomously based on pre-programmed flight patterns. As a result of continual instrument miniaturization, UAVs can carry a growing number of sensors and fill the gap between ground-based and satellite measurements while providing, at low cost and risk, capacities to perform long-term monitoring. Complementary to the UAV’s observations that focus on the lowest 3-5 km, lidar technique can provide the necessary aerosol profile data up to the top of the troposphere.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) can carry an increasing amount of sensors and fill the gap between ground-based and satellite measurements, by providing, for a very competitive cost and risk, the capacity to perform with high spatial resolution, long-term monitoring observations necessary for assessing air pollution and climate change in our region.


  • Atmospheric profiling (0-3km) of aerosol properties (Aerosol optical depth, size distribution, PM, and Black Carbon) at the private CyI UAV airspace.
  • Development of new UAV-balloon systems for atmospheric profiling in the first 15km of the atmosphere


The Unmanned Systems Research Laboratory (USRL; is part of the Climate and Atmosphere Research Center (CARE-C) of The Cyprus Institute and offers on-site facilities and related infrastructure for research, development, and testing of technologies related to UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles).

This infrastructure is currently supported by an instrumentation lab established at the CyI in 2015, aiming to develop/test/calibrate miniaturized instrumentation for operation on board the UAV. Particularly, miniaturized instruments that will be capable to measure, for the first time, size distributions and a number of intrinsic properties (e.g., hygroscopicity and volatility) of airborne nanoparticles having diameters down to the nanometer range will be developed in-house during the project. These activities will be also supported by strategic partners from prestigious research institutions (NOAA, Max Planck, CNRS, CEA, etc.) which provide to USRL with the latest developments of miniaturized atmospheric sensors.

The Department of Meteorology provides measurements of meteorological parameters to the consortium, utilizing it’s dense network of meteo-stations. The information is provided as an automatic stream of online stations (39) and offline, on demand (130).

Comparison of Meteo Sensors
A complete meteo station
Launching a radiosonde for educational reasons

CUT will participate in ACCEPT project providing the ground-based remote sensing measurements of the vertical profiles by a Raman Depolarization Lidar. These observations are crucial to depict the vertical distribution of aerosol optical properties and dust and aerosol pollution mass concentrations from surface up to tropopause. The ERATOSTHENES CoE of CUT will provide through WP2 the data from the routine atmospheric observation of PollyXT Raman lidar. The multi-wavelength Raman lidar PollyXT (Althausen et al., 2009) supplied by the TROPOS Institute is operated at Limassol, Cyprus between October 2016 and March 2018 and since October 2020.

PollyXT lidar is a fully automated instrument capable of 24/7 operation (Engelmann et al., 2016). It is equipped with three elastic backscatter channels at 355 nm, 532 nm and 1064 nm, two rotational-vibrational Raman channels at 387 nm and 607 nm, two linear depolarization channels at 355 nm and 532 nm and one water vapor detection channel at 407 nm.

In addition to the far field capabilities, the system includes two near field elastic backscatter channels at 355 nm and 532 nm and two near 110 field rotational vibrational Raman channels at 387 nm and 607 nm. Additionally, the cross-polarized component at 355 nm and 532nm is detected for the determination of the linear particle depolarization ratio. Due to the near field capability, full overlap is attained at around 120 m. Data are acquired with a vertical resolution of 7.5 m in temporal steps of 30 s. The PollyXT-CYP lidar data were collected on the web page of POLLYNet ( where the “quicklooks” of all measurements are available. The lidar system is part of the European Aerosol Research Lidar Network (EARLINET) (Bösenberg et al., 2003; Pappalardo, et al., 2014) and the Cypriot Research National facility contributing to the Aerosol Remote Sensing Component of Aerosol, Cloud and Trace Gases Research Infrastructure (ACTRIS).