Eye in the Sky: Using UAV Imagery of Seasonal Riverine Canopy Growth to Model Water Temperature

TitleEye in the Sky: Using UAV Imagery of Seasonal Riverine Canopy Growth to Model Water Temperature
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsWillis, A. D., & Holmes E.
Date PublishedJanuary 9, 2019
AbstractUntil recently, stream temperature processes controlled by aquatic macrophyte shading (i.e., the riverine canopy) was an unrecognized phenomenon. This study aims to address the question of the temporal and spatial scale of monitoring and modeling that is needed to accurately simulate canopy-controlled thermal processes. We do this by using unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) imagery to quantify the temporal and spatial variability of the riverine canopy and subsequently develop a relationship between its growth and time. Then we apply an existing hydrodynamic and water temperature model to test various time steps of canopy growth interpolation and explore the balance between monitoring and computational efficiencies versus model performance and utility for management decisions. The results show that riverine canopies modeled at a monthly timescale are sufficient to represent water temperature processes at a resolution necessary for reach-scale water management decisions, but not local-scale. As growth patterns were more frequently updated, negligible changes were produced by the model. Spatial configurations of the riverine canopy vary interannually; new data may need to be gathered for each growth season. However, the risks of inclement field conditions during the early growth period are a challenge for monitoring via UAVs at sites with access constraints.
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