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St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center

St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center > Research and Support Capabilities

Research and Support Capabilities at the St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center

Airborne Mapping

Mapping methods using airborne sensors

   map of Tampa Bay
Laser altimetry, often referred to as Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) is an airborne laser mapping technology. For more information, see EAARL - Airborne lidar system for high-resolution submerged and sub-aerial topography. [larger version]

Manatee Springs and coastal groundwater seeps
Manatee Springs and coastal groundwater seeps in north-central Florida were mapped with airborne thermal Infrared imagery. (Figure from: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2007-1311.) [larger version]

Hyperspectral image shows details of shallow bottom features at the entrance to Longboat Pass, Florida.
Hyperspectral image shows details of shallow bottom features at the entrance to Longboat Pass, Florida. (Image courtesy of West Coast Inland Navigation District).
Vessel-based mapping capabilities can be supplemented in nearshore and shallow coastal areas with airborne sensors such as laser altimetry, hyperspectral and thermal imaging. Where the water is shallow or otherwise un-navigable, the airborne sensors provide an opportunity to map without direct impact to sensitive resources.

Aerial photography is the traditional airborne mapping method, requiring hands-on operator interpretation and mapping. New sensors, imaging systems, and advances in computing have expanded airborne mapping methods to include quantitative measurements and water-penetrating sensors that facilitate feature discrimination and objective change evaluation. Investigators at the St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center use airborne sensors to map nearshore, shallow, and inaccessible tidal areas (http://coastal.er.usgs.gov/remote-sensing/index.html). Complete geographic coverage, little or no direct impact, high resolution, and multiple sensors/bands are some of the advantages of airborne mapping methods.

  • Laser altimetry, often referred to as Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) is a scanning airborne laser technology (http://coastal.er.usgs.gov/lidar/). Lidar acquires laser pulse returns to detect features of the earth surface or beneath shallow water (http://gulfsci.usgs.gov/tampabay/data/1mapping/lidar/). The surface elevations or depths derived from laser altimetry can supplement existing maps with detail not typically available.
  • Hyperspectral, multi-spectral, and thermal Infrared imagery can provide improved maps of aquatic and terrestrial features with project-specific band selection and computer post-processing of the imagery. Submerged habitats, bathymetry and wetlands can be mapped with hyperspectral imagery (http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2007/1382/).

 

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