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Project ID: 2002NE9B

Title: Assessment of Thermal-Infrared Imaging as a Tool For Evaluation of Groundwater-Lake Interactions in the Nebraska Sand Hills

Project Type: Research

Focus Categories: Groundwater, Surface Water, Methods

Keywords: remote sensing, thermal infrared (TIR) techniques, lakes, surface-groundwater interactions, recharge

Start Date: 04/01/2001

End Date: 04/31/2002

Federal Funds: $17,000

Non-Federal Matching Funds: $46,047

Congressional District: 1

Principal Investigators:
Vitaly A. Zlotnik
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

David C. Gosselin
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Geoffrey M. Henebry
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Donald C. Rundquist
University of Nebraska-Lincoln


The Sand Hills is one of the largest grass-stabilized dune fields in the world. Deposited by eolian processes, this dune field serves as a water buffer that preserves precipitation and conveys a part of it to the underlying alluvial sand, gravel, and silt, and further to the High Plains aquifer in an area of 50,000 km2. The surface morphology of this dune field combined with the west-east regional groundwater flow creates numerous lakes in topographic depressions. In Sheridan and Garden counties, there are approximately 400 lakes with surface areas larger than 4 ha. However, little is known specifically about interaction of the lakes and the aquifer in the context of the complete hydrologic system and their importance for water resources of Nebraska, the High Plains aquifer, and wetlands protection.

We propose to explore the thermal-infrared (TIR) technique of temperature mapping of lakes in the Sand Hills for identification of recharge zones and correlate these zones with ground-based observations, topography, and regional groundwater flow.

The problem of hydrological inference will be approached by the search of any thermal anomalies of the Sand Hills lakes using both ground-based measurements of kinetic temperatures and measurements of radiant temperatures from TIR remote sensing. Remote sensing methods can be applied for obtaining data at the system scale, which is appropriate for evaluation of water resources and water quality of the region with resolution at least at the scale of individual lakes. Ground-based measurements can be used for calibration purposes mainly.

The TIR data will be collected using an Inframetrics Thermacam™ from an airborne platform. The aircraft (Piper Saratoga) will be operated by Center for Advanced Land Management and Information Technologies, UNL. The infrared camera, sensitive to 3-5 micron will be flown over the multiple lakes to detect surface temperature trends. The data will be stored in video mode or digital format. A Canon digital video with embedded per-frame coordinates and Trimble GPS system will be used for cross-referencing.

Successful completion of this study will result in the methodology that complements the ground-based studies with the remote sensing techniques and may provide a rapid screening of the zones of intensive surface water- groundwater exchanges. The following results are expected:

·Data on current spatial patterns of ground-surface and lake temperatures for selected lakes in the Sand Hills, Nebraska;
·Data on historic spatial patterns of temperature in selected lakes compiled using a multi-spectral TIR airborne data collected in the 1980's;
·Upscaling of methodology for assessment of groundwater discharge zones of the shallow aquifer to multiple lakes

Progress/Completion Report PDF

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Maintained by: John Schefter
Last Updated: Thursday June 24, 2004 3:18 PM
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