USGS Groundwater Information: Branch of Geophysics
Handheld Thermal Imaging Cameras > Example: Brook Trout Restoration Activities
The USGS Virginia Water Science Center used a thermal-imaging camera in spring 2012 to support brook trout restoration activities. Field deployment of the handheld camera enabled:
The figures below show two examples of data collected during this study. The images were collected at two different locations along a creek. At each of these locations, USGS hydrologists are studying interactions between surface water and local groundwater discharge to inform trout restoration efforts.
Figure 1. Thermal image displayed as an inset of the true-color photograph taken in the field. The photograph looks upstream from the mouth of a large spring, where flow is in excess of 500 gallons per minute. A thrust fault lines the base of the hill in background. The thermal image spans an area about 4 feet across. The unprocessed image (which shows the range of temperature in degrees Celsius) has not been calibrated to actual water temperature at this location. Image courtesy Kurt McCoy/USGS Virginia Water Science Center.
In the figure 1 thermal image, warmer (yellow) groundwater contrasts with the cooler water (purple) of the main channel on the right. The warmer spring water flows in from the left and is moved upstream along the left bank by an eddy current. The image indicates that thermal mixing in the pool is poor. As a result, thermal refuge for trout is not homogeneous within the pool.
Figure 2. Thermal image displayed as an inset of a true-color photograph taken in the field. The cooler water (blue) of the main creek channel flows in from the upper right. Warmer spring water (yellow) flows in from the lower right. At this location, the creek is about 40-feet wide. The temperature scale is in degrees Celsius. Image courtesy Kurt McCoy/USGS Virginia Water Science Center.
In figure 2, the thermal image indicates that in this area of the creek, the warmer (yellow) spring water dominates the channel, almost doubling the stream flow at this location and with only minimal thermal mixing with the cooler (blue) creek water. Again, there is not broad thermal mixing in this area of the stream.
Use of the handheld thermal imaging camera by the USGS Virginia Water Science Center for this project
For more information about this project, contact USGS hydrologist Kurt McCoy (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the USGS Virginia Water Science Center.
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