Applications for remote sensing by unmanned aerial vehicles in reclamation monitoring Anderson, Jeff; Iverson, Melissa; Pearse, Ben
Mapping by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is a relatively new tool which is becoming more accessible, with an increasing set of sensors with potential applications in mine reclamation. UAV mounted multispectral and hyperspectral sensors provide imagery capturing narrow bands within the visible spectra, but also capture imagery in the invisible near-infrared, red-edge spectra, as well as the ultraviolet for hyperspectral. Imagery captured from these cameras are ideal for monitoring of vegetation communities, including through the analysis of vegetation indices, such as the most widely used normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI). Every year there are better and more cost-effective options for UAV mounted LiDAR sensors, which are able to provide detailed elevation maps of small areas. The best-known uses for UAV mounted LiDAR at mine sites are conducting high-quality cover-depth surveys and as-built site diagrams. These systems can also be used to create highly accurate descriptions of vegetation systems, providing data such as: canopy and sub-canopy heights, tree counts, and aboveground biomass. Even a small UAV equipped with a simple camera can be a useful tool in reclamation monitoring. Using a Mavic Pro purchased in 2018 for about fifteen hundred dollars, IEG created RGB (visual spectrum) imagery of a reclamation trial area. The RGB imagery was used for semi-autonomous classification of areas which had received a high, medium, or low application of an organic peat amendment as a component of reclamation-cover placement. This classification was then used to assess differences in survival of planted seedlings by peat content, which would have been more difficult using ground-based sampling methods. These methods will allow for assessment of impacts of this uneven distribution of an organic amendment on the success of revegetation efforts over time. This paper outlines reclamation monitoring applications of UAV technology, including a case study from our own work.
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