Using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) for ultra-high resolution mapping of Antarctic moss beds
Lucieer, A, Using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) for ultra-high resolution mapping of Antarctic moss beds, School of Geography & Environmental Studies Conference Abstracts 2010, 28 June 2010, Sandy Bay (2010) [Conference Extract]
Polar regions are experiencing rapid and severe climatic shifts with major changes in temperature, wind speed and UV-B radiation already observed in Antarctica. Since vegetation is isolated to the coastal fringe and climatic records only extend back 50 years, with limited spatial resolution, we urgently need new proxies to determine if coastal climate has changed over the past century. In a manner similar to trees, old growth mosses also preserve a climate record along their shoots. Our ability to accurately date these mosses and map their extent in sufficient spatial detail means that, for the first time, mosses can be used as sentinels to provide crucial information on how the Antarctic coastal climate has changed over past centuries and how biota has responded to these changes.
The spatial scale of the moss beds (tens of m2) makes satellite imagery (even very high resolution imagery of 0.5 m) unsuitable for mapping their extent in sufficient detail. Due to logistical constraints aerial photography is impractical. Recent developments in the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for remote sensing applications provide exciting new opportunities for ultra-high resolution mapping and monitoring of the environment. In this study, we developed a UAV consisting of a remote controlled helicopter carrying three different cameras: visible colour, near-infrared, and thermal infrared for cost-effective, efficient, and ultra-high resolution mapping of terrestrial vegetation in the Windmill Islands, Antarctica. These three sensors allow us to map different physical characteristics of the moss beds at resolutions of several centimetres. This paper and presentation will address the issues encountered in developing a UAV system, discuss the different UAV sensors and components, and demonstrate how this system can be applied in these fragile remote polar ecosystems.
OktoKopter, Antarctic moss beds, high resolution mapping, UAV