Pilot Study to Evaluate Coastal Change Using Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)
Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) are a new and relatively untapped resource within the USGS and the scientific community for coastal surveying.
UAS offer a number of advantages over ground-based surveys and manned aerial systems, including the ability to rapidly deploy and efficiently collect remote sensing data, and to derive high-resolution elevations over variable terrain. The purpose of this project was to evaluate mapping, data processing, and analysis capabilities for pilot surveys of coastal beaches and marshes using UAS. The project was designed to provide a low-risk, low-cost means to explore the utility of UAS for coastal mapping on beaches and marshes, and develop methodology and capacity to acquire, process, and analyze data. The collaborative project brought together USGS scientists and technical staff, with Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) researchers and students, and supported both research and education through coursework including observational biodiversity and informatics, system design, and both field and laboratory collaboration. Products from this effort include: 1) a peer-reviewed journal manuscript documenting the mapping routines developed and modified for UAS surveys in coastal environments; 2) a U.S. Geological Survey Data Release publishing aerial imagery and associated data sets generated from a representative UAS survey; and 3) information used to develop a 2015 bioinformatics course.