SNAP's Keith Cunningham receives remote sensing patent

Observers of wildfire and volcano eruptions have a new tool for studying their atmospheric effects, and they have two UAF researchers to credit for it.

Scenarios Network for Alaska and Arctic Planning (SNAP) research faculty member Keith Cunningham and project partner Peter Webley of the Geophysical Institute have received a patent for Validating and Calibrating a Forecast Model.

The patented invention allows for critical information to be gathered on aerosols, such as smoke and ash. It is in large part the result of Cunningham’s work with the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).

“This UAF patent is about making near-real-time decisions with a novel remote sensing technique,” explains Cunningham. “[A] ‘stereo-look’ at an aerosol or particle cloud allows the reconstruction of the cloud’s height and structure.”

Obtaining this information enables researchers to validate the accuracy of particle forecasting and calibrate subsequent forecasting models, as quickly as 15 minutes when the next geosynchronous satellite image is available.

During his time with SBIR, Cunningham and his colleagues pursued a patent for their validating and calibrating techniques, in order to protect their intellectual property and to advance the invention.

“The role of a patent is to protect the invention as it is commercialized,” says Cunningham. “Without a solid business plan and the goal of protecting the patent from infringement, there is not a business opportunity.”

Cunningham’s ongoing work with AFRL will continue the development of the invention.

For more information on the business opportunity, and UAF’s first spin-off company, visit V-Adapt.

Photo courtesy of Dale Haggstrom.