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Employing Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) to Understand and Manage Resources at Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

Pitchford, J., Spurrier, L., Moorhead, R. J., & Archer, M. (2016). Employing Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) to Understand and Manage Resources at Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Bays and Bayous Symposium 2016. Biloxi, MS.

Abstract

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) provide an opportunity to study coastal marsh ecosystems with great efficiency. Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (GBNERR) in partnership with Mississippi State University (MSU) and the Northern Gulf Institute (NGI) are using UAS to collect remotely sensed data for several applications. Past efforts included monitoring a simulated chemical spill in Bang’s Lake, creating single species vegetation maps of Sentinel Sites, and mapping the burned extent of two large wildfires within the GBNERR in 2015. During the summer of 2016, flights over the Sentinel Sites were repeated in an effort to monitor change in vegetation communities using remote sensing. These results can be compared with field-based vegetation surveys to examine the strengths and weaknesses of both methods. Also, a re-flight of one of the wildfire areas is scheduled for late summer 2016. The total burned extent mapped from the previous flight indicated that the fire burned approximately 4,249 acres from the northwestern edge of the GBNERR in Mississippi extending east into Alabama. Imagery collected from this area in 2016 will be used to generate estimates of vegetation re-growth following the wildfire, which has several applications including testing indices of wildfire severity developed by US Fish and Wildlife Service.


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