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NOAA UAS Program Participates in UAS/Sensor Evaluation for Wildfire Mapping and Environmental Intelligence

DOI, USGS, FS, NOAA UAS – Fire Science Consortium: Measuring fine scale fire behavior and fire effects

The DOI, USGS, Forest Service (FS), EPA, NOAA UAS Program met for the Fire Science Consortium: Measuring fine scale fire behavior and fire effects controlled burn in Tallahassee FL 17-23 April.  The Tall Timbers Research & Land Conservancy hosted the event where the team operated Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) over the fire with several UAS/sensors including an iMet meteorology sensor being flown (photos attached). 

To learn more about wildfire mapping, weather and environmental impacts, a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) team successfully proposed a USGS‐Internal Innovation Fund project and enlisted the University of Florida–Gainesville (UF), the Canadian Forestry Service (CFS), and the EPA/Office of Research and Development (ORD) to participate in a field sampling effort during a prescribed burn. The USGS grantee, UF, participated by flying their UAS, while carrying an infrared (IR) sensor and ORD’s emission sensor/samplers. This system monitored surface temperatures and the spread of wildland fires from above and below the forest canopy using IR remote sensing at multiple spatial scales. The IR sensor system provided data to be analyzed by CFS and the emission data will be analyzed by ORD in conjunction with USGS.  The University of Montana flying for the Forest Service flew IR sensors, and NOAA UAS program provided the iMet sensor recording data from two separate UAS.

The project used a multicopter UAS to measure and correlate fire intensity and rate of spread with the type and amount of emissions from a prescribed burn. IR imagers provide images of temperature, where each pixel provides essentially the same data as a thermocouple at that point. Geo‐referenced imagery provides spatially‐explicit data to compute rate of flame spread (ROS) by tracking the position of the flame front from one frame to another and measuring the distance traveled at each perimeter pixel normal to the flame. The iMet sensor provides temperature, relative humidity and pressure.

The Cost-Size, Weight, and Power (C-SWAP) for the iMet-XQ UAS Sensor is very low and can be integrated very quickly and easily onto the smallest UAS.

iMet-XQ UAV Sensor – Atmospheric Sensor for small UAS

  • Self-contained package including PTU, GPS, rechargeable battery and data storage
  • 120 minute battery capacity
  • Data download using USB
  • Fast-response PTU sensors
  • Release 3 Beta testing underway
  • Real time data available with 3DR Solo integration.
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