The Culebra Aerosol Research
Lidar (CARLA) is an innovative light detection and ranging
instrument (lidar). CARLA instrument will provide aerosol data
to study Saharan dust at a Caribbean location to the scientific
community. Another component of this project is to increase
educational outreach opportunities for Puerto Rico’s K-12
schools and university students to perform hands-on research
experiences. The Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research
Trust (PRST) awarded the CARLA project in March 2020.
The CARLA instrument received additional support funding from a
supplemental award of the main National Science Foundation
Arecibo Observatory (AO) award. This supplement funding is used
to deploy CARLA in separate housing at the AO
Remote Optical Facility (ROF) located in Culebra Island,
about 20 miles east of Puerto Rico. A customized 10ft by 8ft
container with all the requirements to house and operate the
CARLA instrument was acquired and arrived at AO on February 5,
Dr. Jens Lautenbach (Principal Investigator)
Dr. Pedrina Terra (Co-Investigator)
Dr. Josef Höffner (Consultant)
CARLA arrived to the CCORE-1 location on Culebra island August 11, 2023.
(CARLA) instrument—an innovative high spectral resolution
aerosol lidar—is under development at the main site of the
Arecibo Observatory (AO). Thereafter, his instrument will be
installed at the Remote
Optical Facility (ROF) of the AO in Culebra Island.
CARLA will deliver information about aerosol properties over
time and altitude. Especially the height resolved measurements
are an important factor since most of the other aerosol
instruments deliver only column measurements of the atmospheric
aerosols. The knowledge of all three variables (i.e., aerosol
properties, time, and altitude) enables studying the dynamics of
aerosol layers. This includes dust coming across the Atlantic
Ocean from the African continent named Saharan Air Layer (SAL).
The SAL plays an essential role in the lower atmosphere because
it influences cloud and hurricane formation, weather, and the
health of our population, among others. Based on SAL’s
track, CARLA will be deployed at the ROF of the AO in Culebra
Island. Culebra Island is located around 20 miles east of Puerto
Rico's mainland and a unique site to investigate the SAL free of
anthropogenic pollution before it reaches Puerto Rico.
The purpose of the CARLA project is twofold: (a) study and provide data to the scientific community of aerosol properties and SAL over the island of Culebra, and (b) increase opportunities for the educational system by outreach activities for Puerto Rico’s K-12 schools as well as for university students to perform hands-on research experience.
Contact person: Dr. Jens Lautenbach, Observatory Scientist, Principal Investigator of CARLA project, firstname.lastname@example.org
CARLA arrived to the CCORE-1 location on Culebra island August 11, 2023.
Example of a measurement. High depolarization ratio means solid particles (dust or ice) and low depolarization ratio means water droplets.
Platform presentation of the CARLA project at the AAAR Annual Conference.
Visit from Andreica Maldonado and Grace M. Rendón Febles (center of picture) from the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust to showcase the CARLA project.
Fitting of the environment sensors for remote operation (wind, rain and light sensor).
Setup and pre-alignment of over 50 photonic and 200 optomechanical elements is finished. Laser safety and blackout materiel is installed (some are removed for showing purposes).
The motorized roof hatch is installed by Electronics and Maintenance department.
Edwin is helping to install the 16in lidar receiver telescope including mirror and carbon fiber tube.
Laser (transmitter) and detection bench (receiver) are being set up.
Student Dariel Vidal is building the CARLA webpages in his 9-week Research Experience for Undergraduate project.
The CARLA instrument container is set up with air condition, laser table, telescope enclosure, electronic rack, electric and network connection. Thanks to the Electronics and Maintenance department.
CARLA instrument container arrived.
With the equipment slowly arriving first system test are performed.
CARLA PC is ready for installing the lidar data acquisition and instrument control card.
CARLA instrument container design was finished, and a manufacturer was appointed.
First student outreach activity of the CARLA project. During an 8-week internship, Maria Teresa Velazquez Rodriguez from the Colegio Puertorriqueño de Niñas, San Juan searched research articles related to the Saharan Dust and created a database.
The strongest Saharan Dust event for the past 50 years triggered the visit of Deborah Martorell, a weather reporter on channel 4 (WAPA), at the Arecibo Observatory(AO). The PI was interviewed about the CARLA project and the AO Lidar Facility, resulted in two ‘Informe Especial’ titled ‘luces de Arecibo’ and ‘efectos del polvo del Sahara desde Culebra’.
- Cooperate agreement between PRST and University of Central Florida(UCF) was established. The PI was awarded additional funding in the form of a supplemental proposal of the main NationalScience Foundation award to the Arecibo Observatory (AO). The funds are used to deploy the CARLA instrument in a seperate housing at the AO Remote Optical Facility at Culebra Island.
CARLA Project presentation at the Arecibo Observatory Science Meeting.
Funding awarded by the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust(PRST).
The CARLA project, lead by Arecibo Observatory (AO) scientist Dr. Jens Lautenbach (PI) and Dr. Pedrina Terra dos Santos (Co-I), was recently awarded funding by the Puerto Rico Science Technology & Research Trust. CARLA will deliver information about aerosol properties over time and altitude in order to study the dynamics of aerosol layers, including the Saharan Air Layer which influences cloud and hurricane formation and the air quality. + Read More
Even before the newest AO facility is complete, students and scientists are already hard at work on the relevant science projects. The Culebra Aerosol Research Lidar (CARLA) facility, which began construction in March of 2020, will be used to track aerosols in the atmosphere. Of particular importance is the study of the Saharan dust in the air, which affects air quality and hurricane formation in the Atlantic and Greater Caribbean region. June 2020 saw a uniquely strong dust plume event, causing noticeably dimmer skies as far west as Texas. + Read More
The highly anticipated arrival of the Culebra Aerosol Research Lidar (CARLA) instrument container to the Arecibo Observatory occurred on February 5th, 2021. This marks the beginning of the installation of the new CARLA instrument that had been funded through a grant from the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust in 2020. The CARLA instrument container, funded through a National Science Foundation (NSF) supplementary award, is a highly-customized container with all the requirements necessary to house and operate the CARLA instrument, + Read More
Congratulations to María Teresa Velázquez
Rodríguez, former AO summer high school student,
who was accepted into Harvard University for her
undergraduate studies focused in astrophysics! Her
work at Arecibo focused on collecting data about the
Saharan Air Layer for the Arecibo Observatory's new CARLA facility