Abstract

High-resolution characterizations and predictions are a grand challenge for ecohydrology. Recent advances in flight control, robotics and miniaturized sensors using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) provide an unprecedented opportunity for characterizing, monitoring and modeling ecohydrologic systems at high-resolution (,1 m) over a range of scales. How can the ecologic and hydrologic communities most effectively use UAVs for advancing the state of the art? This Innovative Viewpoints paper introduces the utility of two classes of UAVs for ecohydrologic investigations in two semiarid rangelands of the southwestern U.S. through two useful examples. We discuss the UAV deployments, the derived image, terrain and vegetation products and their usefulness for ecohydrologic studies at two different scales. Within a land-atmosphere interaction study, we utilize high-resolution imagery products from a rotarywing UAV to characterize an eddy covariance footprint and scale up environmental sensor network observations to match the time-varying sampling area. Subsequently, in a surface and subsurface interaction study within a small watershed, we demonstrate the use of a fixed-wing UAV to characterize the spatial distribution of terrain attributes and vegetation conditions which serve as input to a distributed ecohydrologic model whose predictions compared well with an environmental sensor network. We also point to several challenges in performing ecohydrology with UAVs with the intent of promoting this new self-service (do-it-yourself ) model for high-resolution image acquisition over many scales. We believe unmanned aerial vehicles can fundamentally change how ecohydrologic science is conducted and offer ways to merge remote sensing, environmental sensor networks and numerical models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number130
JournalEcosphere
Volume5
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014

Fingerprint

ecohydrology
sensors (equipment)
sensor
vegetation
prediction
vehicle
unmanned aerial vehicles
eddy covariance
robotics
image resolution
rangeland
rangelands
footprint
remote sensing
imagery
flight
spatial distribution
watershed
atmosphere
monitoring

Keywords

  • Ecology
  • Environmental sensor network
  • Hydrology
  • Remote sensing
  • Robotics
  • Scaling
  • Unmanned aircraft systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology

Cite this

Vivoni, E., Rango, A., Anderson, C. A., Pierini, N. A., Schreiner-Mcgraw, A. P., Saripalli, S., & Laliberte, A. S. (2014). Ecohydrology with unmanned aerial vehicles. Ecosphere, 5(10), [130]. https://doi.org/10.1890/ES14-00217.1

Ecohydrology with unmanned aerial vehicles. / Vivoni, Enrique; Rango, Albert; Anderson, Cody A.; Pierini, Nicole A.; Schreiner-Mcgraw, Adam P.; Saripalli, Srikanth; Laliberte, Andrea S.

In: Ecosphere, Vol. 5, No. 10, 130, 01.10.2014.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Vivoni, E, Rango, A, Anderson, CA, Pierini, NA, Schreiner-Mcgraw, AP, Saripalli, S & Laliberte, AS 2014, 'Ecohydrology with unmanned aerial vehicles', Ecosphere, vol. 5, no. 10, 130. https://doi.org/10.1890/ES14-00217.1
Vivoni E, Rango A, Anderson CA, Pierini NA, Schreiner-Mcgraw AP, Saripalli S et al. Ecohydrology with unmanned aerial vehicles. Ecosphere. 2014 Oct 1;5(10). 130. https://doi.org/10.1890/ES14-00217.1
Vivoni, Enrique ; Rango, Albert ; Anderson, Cody A. ; Pierini, Nicole A. ; Schreiner-Mcgraw, Adam P. ; Saripalli, Srikanth ; Laliberte, Andrea S. / Ecohydrology with unmanned aerial vehicles. In: Ecosphere. 2014 ; Vol. 5, No. 10.
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