Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2017UT205B

Use of sUAS for Mapping Wetland Flow Paths and Consumptive Use in the San Rafael River, Utah

Institute: Utah
Year Established: 2017 Start Date: 2017-03-01 End Date: 2018-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $39,060 Total Non-Federal Funds: $52,910

Principal Investigators: Alfonso Torres-Rua, Ian Gowing, Leila HassanEsfahani

Abstract: The Utah Water Research Laboratory (UWRL) at Utah State University (USU), along with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) in the Utah Department of Natural resources, proposes to assess the wetlands morphological changes (changes in riparian habitat for fish) along with Tamarisk consumptive water use (evapotranspiration estimates of this invasive vegetation) to better understand and enhance natural habitat improvement projects executed by UDWR. This project will include intensive data collection of high-resolution imagery using small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) along with ground measurements of evapotranspiration rates and water surface temperature in a section of the wetlands located along the San Rafael River, Utah. For the aerial mapping, AggieAir, a sUAS developed at USU, will be used to capture information at sub-meter resolution in different spectral bands (visible, near infrared, and thermal). For morphological change analysis, UDWR will use accurately positioned imagery to derive historical comparisons of changes in wetland features. For water consumption estimates for existing invasive vegetation (Tamarisk), a comparison of several available surface energy balance models will be performed against evapotranspiration measurements obtained by USU/UWRL researchers in the data collection activities. The information and results obtained under this project will be available to State of Utah water and natural resources management agencies and will help them to consider further analyses similar to those proposed in this project in other wetland locations within the state.