Parrot, a leading drone manufacturer, partners with the research group of Dr Todd Dawson, faculty at the University of California, Berkeley, to promote innovation and the use of drone technology in measuring and monitoring forest ecosystems.
The record-setting drought in California has killed more than 60 million trees over the past few years. There is a significant concern amongst scientists on how these die-offs will impact the Sierra Nevada mountains, particularly the stands of iconic giant sequoia trees.
The project is taking a novel approach to studying the architecture and hydraulics, or how water flows, through the massive sequoia trees. The goal is to better understand how individual sequoias have survived for centuries and how they will continue to survive in the future under a changing climate.
“This is a fascinating collaboration for us,” says Dr Gregory Crutsinger, who leads Scientific Programs for Parrot. “We are combining skill sets of scientific research and professional tree climbing to map the interior structure of a tree crown with cutting-edge drone technology to scan the outside. Together, we have an amazing 3-dimensional dataset that is unique to the world!”
Climbing trees with ropes and harnesses is a dangerous and time-consuming endeavour. The team is comparing how much canopy data can be captured quickly and safely using drone imagery relative to the days and weeks it takes canopy scientists now to map the trees by hand.
“Tackling a huge and critically important issue like climate change requires research that leads to solutions,” says Dr Dawson. “Drones with their new onboard sensor packages are powerful new tools that will allow us to look very closely at single trees but then really pull back and look at how an entire forest is responding too, in both time and over space.”
Dr Dawson and his team are now working in scaling-up the information they are collecting in ways they have never been able to do, not just in the forests of California, but across different ecosystems. “I see a whole new research agenda here that will help answer questions we never knew we could ask let alone answer,” Dr. Dawson adds.
Parrot launches ‘Climate Innovation Grant’ program
To help foster further innovation surrounding the impact of climate change, Parrot is announcing a ‘Climate Innovation Grant’ program.
This grant program consists of an award of hardware and software. Parrot will provide the Parrot Sequoia multispectral sensor, Pix4D software license and training to successful proposals.
Grant proposals should include a geographical/mapping component using UAVs and Pix4D photogrammetric software, as well as multispectral imagery related to the technical capabilities of the Parrot Sequoia sensor.
This competitive grant program* is open to students and researchers across the globe and across a range of disciplines, from archaeology to zoology.
See more at: http://edu.parrot.com/climate