Drone the SWMP: Assessing the Utility of Drones for Monitoring Coastal Wetlands; NOAA

Date and Time: Wed, 06/29/2022 – 3:00pm to 4:00pm

Speaker(s): Brandon Puckett, Whitney Jenkins, Cristiana Falvo, Justin Ridge, Brittany Morse, Allix North, and Erik Smith

Location: Webinar

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Tidal wetland monitoring is critical for detecting changes and managing these vulnerable coastal ecosystems. Wetland monitoring programs typically use ground-based measurements or satellite observations to track changes at small and large scales – but these approaches may miss important processes that occur at intermediate spatial scales or result from discrete events such as extreme storms. Mounting sensors on unmanned aerial systems (UAS) – commonly known as drones – offers an opportunity to radically improve tidal wetland monitoring programs by providing high spatial resolution, coverage, and customization on the operator’s schedule.

This project team worked with the six National Estuarine Research Reserves in the Southeast and Caribbean to develop, assess, and collaboratively refine a protocol for drone operation, data management, and data analysis. In this webinar, which will consist of a presentation and panel discussion, members of the project team will talk about their approach – which pairs ground-based validation and drone-based observation to estimate common wetland monitoring parameters – as well as the collaborative process that enabled them to develop the protocols. They will also share lessons learned, products developed, and benefits that have emerged from this work.

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Referenced Project(s): Bridging the Gap between Quadrats and Satellites: Assessing Utility of Drone-based Imagery to Enhance Emergent Vegetation Biomonitoring