Integrating Unmanned Aerial Vehicles with Sensors to Monitor the Harmful Algal Blooms in the Ohio River

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Catherine Gottsacker
Dongmei Feng


Record ID: 28

Award(s): Excellence in Research Communication

Student Major: Chemical Engineering

Project Advisor: Dongmei Feng

Abstract: Harmful algae blooms (HAB) in surface waters are a global environmental concern, threatening both human and environmental health. To control their impact, HABs must be monitored in a timely manner. While continuous monitoring of surface water is possible using monitoring stations equipped to measure chlorophyll concentration, establishing and maintaining the stations is a costly and labor-intensive endeavor. Chlorophyll data can also be detected in the field using sensors or by collecting water samples, but these methods are time consuming and require direct access to the water. The methods become dangerous and impractical in areas surrounded by cliffs or wetlands. In this project, a flexible, efficient, and cost-effective approach for monitoring surface water quality is developed using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and sensors. A UAV platform is created to allow direct monitoring of chlorophyll concentration using a sonde carried through the water, allowing monitoring of otherwise inaccessible water bodies. In future research, this platform will be deployed in tandem with a second UAV carrying a multispectral camera, to develop a concentration-reflectance rating curve for Chlorophyll as an indicator of HABs. The reflectance readings from the multispectral-carrying UAV alone can then be used to remotely collect water quality data on any surface water with high spatial and temporal resolution. 

Article Details

Category: Sensing, Perception, & Sensor Technology
Author Biography

Catherine Gottsacker

Major: Chemical Engineering