State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2008WI192B
Title: A Thermal Remote Sensing Tool for Mapping Spring and Diffuse Groundwater Discharge to Streams
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2008
End Date: 2/28/2009
Congressional District: 2
Focus Categories: Management and Planning, Methods, Water Supply
Keywords: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, remote sensing, groundwater discharge rates, mapping
Principal Investigator: Loheide, Steven
Federal Funds: $ 34,190
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 29,485
Abstract: This research will be a proof-of-concept for using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to collect thermal remote sensing data for mapping of groundwater discharge. The premise of the work is that the thermal signature of groundwater is relatively constant year round, but differs from the stream temperature which varies on diel and annual cycles. The approach implemented in this work will be to collect thermal imagery at the stream reach scale (several kms), at four times during the day - dawn, noon, 4pm, and dusk. From this imagery, springs will be visually identified and discharge rates estimated from the amount of cooling/warming observed. Diffuse flow will be identified by creating longitudinal profiles of stream temperature and locating subreaches with depressed maximum diel stream temperature and increased minimum diel stream temperature. Maps of both spring and diffuse groundwater discharge will be created that aid in 1) understanding of stream-aquifer interactions 2) providing insight into the underlying groundwater flow system 3) identifying reaches where groundwater discharge may threaten surface water quality through discharge of contaminated groundwater 4) developing a water quality monitoring program that can account for areas of known discharge and 5) targeting reaches for conservation or restoration where stream-aquifer interactions are favorable for supporting aquatic ecosystems.

This research will improve our understanding of stream-aquifer interactions. In addition, this work will provide a cost-effective, transferable methodology for identification and mapping of springs, a research priority that would support implementation of the 2003 Wisconsin Act 310.

Progress/Completion Report, PDF

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