Potential for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems applications for identifying groundwater-surface water exchange in a meandering river reach

Geophysical Research Letters
By: , and 

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Abstract

The exchange of groundwater and surface water (GW-SW), including dissolved constituents and energy, represents a critical yet challenging characterization problem for hydrogeologists and stream ecologists. Here, we describe the use of a suite of high spatial-resolution remote-sensing techniques, collected using a small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS), to provide novel and complementary data to analyze GW-SW exchange. sUAS provided centimeter-scale resolution topography and water surface elevations, which are often drivers of exchange along the river corridor. Additionally, sUAS-based vegetation imagery, vegetation-top elevation, and normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) mapping indicated GW-SW exchange patterns that are difficult to characterize from the land surface and may not be resolved from coarser satellite-based imagery. We combined these data with estimates of sediment hydraulic conductivity to provide a direct estimate of GW “shortcutting” through meander necks, which was corroborated by temperature data at the riverbed interface.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Potential for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems applications for identifying groundwater-surface water exchange in a meandering river reach
Series title Geophysical Research Letters
DOI 10.1002/2017GL075836
Volume 44
Issue 23
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher AGU
Contributing office(s) OGW Branch of Geophysics
Description 10 p.
First page 11868
Last page 11877