Slovenian pilot sets out on new environmental expedition
Lenarčič, accompanied by another pilot, took of in his upgraded ultralight aircraft from Slovenske Konjice (NE) today to carry out the new Green Light World Flight mission, which will take place during most of the summer.
The two pilots will collect Saharan dust levels above north-eastern Spain and Cyprus at various altitudes. Winds carry dust particles from the Sahara Desert in Africa over the Mediterranean Sea to South Europe, with the particles absorbing and then emitting sunlight and thus affecting global and regional climate.
The expedition is part of the international environmental project DNAAP on collecting and analysing natural air pollution data, which is being run by the Ljubljana-based company Aerosol, a manufacturer of scientific products designed for air-quality measurement.
The project is also supported by the Jožef Stefan Institute (IJS) as well as several Spanish and Cypriot research institutions, and co-funded by Slovenia and the EU regional development fund.
Last year, Lenarčič completed a 23,000-kilometre flight across Asia, concluding that China was the world's most polluted country, while in 2017, he already collected data above the Mediterranean.
The weather conditions are expected to be more ideal for such measurement this year though since an intense weather phenomenon has been forecast for Spain in the upcoming days, transporting a large amount of Saharan dust to eastern Spain and increasing the relevance of the mission.
According to Lenarčič's team, researching dust particle levels is significant because of the profound impact of air pollution on global warming, melting of glaciers and ocean heating as well as the negative impact on people's health. Studies show that higher levels of Saharan dust lead to higher mortality from cardio-vascular and lung diseases as well as to increased amounts of microorganisms, minerals and allergens in the air.
Lenarčič has flown around the world three times already and is expected to embark on another expedition over the Himalayas, India and Bhutan next year.