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Center for Applied Geomatics
January 26, 2012   
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The Military University of Technology’s Center for Applied Geomatics is one of three centers of its kind in Poland using digital weather models.

Geomatics, also known as geospatial technology or geomatics engineering, involves gathering, storing, processing, and delivering geographic information.

The center is staffed by a team of 12 researchers headed by Prof. Mariusz Figurski. The research team includes surveyors, meteorologists, physicists, mathematicians, electronics engineers, and computer scientists.

The center chiefly deals with land surveying and geodynamics, which means all kinds of research related to the dynamics—structure and movements—of the Earth. This is supplemented by research in areas including meteorology to support analyses involving earth sciences.

The WAT scientists conduct research into space weather, among other studies. The team investigates losses of signal that occur in space due to natural causes. The researchers work in this area together with their colleagues from the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń.

The WAT Center for Applied Geomatics conducts research for which Prof. Figurski’s team has secured grants. The main research area is the development of modules for supporting real-time services. This system, which is currently managed by the Central Office of Land Surveying and Map Making, was built three years ago as part of a pan-European project that covered a dozen or so countries in Central and Western Europe. In Poland, three universities are working on the project: WAT, the Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, and the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn.

The new solutions are primarily designed to improve the reliability of the system. The position determined with the use of the system is free of interference. The system is primarily designed for use in navigation—in the case of Poland mainly in land navigation. It will also be used by all kinds of emergency services. Land surveyors, for example, need the system to build highways, sports stadiums and bridges.

The WAT scientists want to upgrade the system and incorporate research related to the observation of the troposphere—all this to make sure the signal is free of interference and the position shown is almost 100 percent accurate.

As part of the project, special applications are being written for mobile phones. The owner of such a phone with a GPS function will be able to connect to the system as a source of navigation data.

Work is also under way to use a digital terrain model in navigation. The result is an accurate measurement of terrain elevation. The WAT scientists have managed to ensure that the elevation data fed into the GPS system come from a digital terrain model, which increases the accuracy of data in real time.

Another project involves the analysis of different station coordinates determined with the use of satellite laser ranging (SLR) techniques and the GPS system. The project is part of a larger international project called the Global Geodetic Observing System aiming to understand the mechanisms that govern the Earth’s ecosystem. Both theoretical and applied research as well experimental studies and measurements are expected to serve this goal.

Yet another project is an integrated system for monitoring the state of permanent and temporary bridges. The project was launched in the wake of a series of floods that struck Poland in recent years. They have shown that people in flooded areas have inadequate access to bridges.

The Center for Applied Geomatics is also involved in a project focusing on the Earth’s lithosphere. It is being carried out together with the Polish Geological Institute. Researchers have assessed the applicability of the ASG-EUPOS and EPN networks to create a regional, two-dimensional model of lithosphere surface deformation. The model is designed to take advantage of deep drilling work by the Polish Geological Institute and satellite surface measurements. Based on this, a two-dimensional model of the lithosphere has been created, and in the future the researchers intend to build a three-dimensional model.

There are areas in Poland that have undergone major changes due to human activity. These include the Silesia region and areas around Bełchatów. Tremors and cave-ins occur there, and shale gas deposits are a new challenge. The models will make it possible to analyze areas where risk could potentially occur.

One result of the project is that WAT hosts one of Europe’s computing centers dealing with data from satellite networks. There are only 18 such centers in Europe. They examine interference to satellite signals, which occurs all the time, but some types of interference are especially dangerous, for example, for aircraft during landing. The latest brainchild of the Center is a system for monitoring the state of the ionosphere, which will soon be presented in the United States.

In 2008, the center’s researchers launched a project for monitoring engineering facilities. In the Warsaw neighborhood of Kawęczyn, a monitoring system has been installed on the tallest chimney in Europe, connected to the Military University of Technology by optical fibers. From there, observations are made to determine to what extent the chimney tilts because of the wind. This is important because increasingly taller buildings are being constructed in Warsaw and experts need to know what will happen if the wind begins to blow harder than assumed.
Tadeusz Belerski
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