Ecohydrology with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Saturday, February 13, 2016: 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
Marriott Balcony B (Marriott Wardman Park)
Enrique R. Vivoni, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
The climate and environmental sciences can benefit from the high-resolution, on-demand observations provided by the recent advances in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Commercial, off-the-shelf UAVs offer advances in flight control, automation and imaging sensors that can be used to characterize terrestrial land surfaces, monitor changes in landscape conditions and provide spatiotemporal inputs to environmental modeling activities. This presentation discusses the use of different types of UAVs in the interdisciplinary field of ecohydrology, with examples drawn from field activities in different natural and urban ecosystems of the southwestern United States. We will discuss several UAV deployments and the derived image products related to vegetation and terrain properties that were instrumental for high-resolution analyses and modeling efforts in ecohydrology. We also point to several challenges in performing ecohydrology with UAVs with the intent of promoting this new self-service model for applications ranging from single locations to entire landscapes. With continued commercial development and adoption in the scientific community, UAVs will change how the climate and environmental sciences are conducted by offering new ways to merge remote sensing data, ground observations and numerical models.