In December 2016, Pix4D and Parrot announced we would award a climate innovation grant to help foster innovation around the impact of global climate change. We received over 250 proposals from researchers across a range of disciplines.
We selected six projects, chosen on novelty, scientific merit, and team experience. We also considered advanced degrees, formal association with educational organizations or institutions, and a strong record of climate change research.
Our grant winners have received a Parrot Disco-Pro AG that embeds a Parrot Sequoia multispectral sensor, a 1- year Pix4D software license, and training to help them move their research forward.
And the winners are …drum roll please...
Robert M. Pringle
Assistant professor, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, USA
The role of climate in modulating wildlife extinctions in African drylands
“We want to use drone-based ecological monitoring to incorporate regular low-altitude image surveys of our plots into our regular long-term monitoring program.
Specifically, we want to measure woody-plant biomass, phenology, water stress, net aboveground productivity, and canopy architecture. All of which are impossible to measure with current satellite technology and the best available ground-based methods are exceedingly time-consuming and frustratingly imprecise to boot.”
Dr. Chris Field
Professor of Biology and Environmental Earth Science, Department of Global Ecology, Stanford University, USA
Drone-based detection of grassland phenology, productivity and composition in relation to climate
“Our goal is to use a drone-mounted camera and multispectral sensor to map and monitor temporal and spatial variation in grassland in order to understand the role of climate variation in driving changes in grassland composition.
Specifically we propose to examine the extent to which changes in grassland composition—such as the balance of grasses vs forbs, annuals vs perennials, and invasive vs native species—are due to weather and microclimate-driven changes in phenology and/or productivity.”
Executive Director, Gobabeb Research and Training Centre, Namibia
Growth dynamics of the lichen fields of the Central Namib Desert
“Lichens are small, highly complex organisms, with thalli ranging between 10–100 mm in diameter. They occur across vast expanses of desert plains and are often difficult to access. Crustose lichens (e.g. Lecidella crystallina and Caloplaca spp.) especially cannot be discerned from the surrounding matrix of desert gravel. This makes conventional RGB-photography, in particular aerial RGB-photography, totally unsuitable for monitoring lichen growth.
The expected ground resolution of about 10 cm will also even out unwanted detail on the gravel plain surface (i.e. pebbles and smaller stone from various geological origins), making it easier to determine a trend in photosynthesising activity rather than confusing detail in the ground surface.
Our long-term goal would be to try and model productivity of the lichen-fields based on the multi-spectral bands (specifically the near-infrared and red edge bands), and in this way monitor the vigour and growth of the lichen fields. These data could inform land management practices in the uranium-rich Central Namib Desert.“
Holly P. Jones
Assistant professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Illinois University, USA
Using drones to monitor grassland responses to shifting climate and restoration
“A multispectral camera will significantly reduce our workload because we would no longer have to overlay these images by hand to calculate NDVI and other measurements.
This grant will scale our pilot-project and look at how restoration interacts with climate and allow us to help managers forecast what that will mean for future prairie restorations.”
Senior researcher, InForest JRU, Spain
Monitoring insect pest impacts in mediterranean forests
“We want to to quantitatively assess the impact of the the pine processionary moth on pine forests at the forest stand scale (10-100 ha). Satellite imagery has strong constraints on the quantity and quality of information. RGB imagery may not be adequate to conduct impact assessment across space and time. Multispectral data (i.e. infrared) allows a much better comparison across images taken in different locations and times.”
Neukom Postdoctoral Fellow,Dickey Center Visiting Arctic Fellow, Dartmouth College, Germany
Climate-driven greening of the Siberian Arctic: Multispectral sensors on UAVs bridge ground to satellite scaling challenges
“Multispectral data will allow for direct radiometric comparisons with vegetation change patterns captured by satellite data. This grant offers huge advantages: discrete spectral bands, direct measures of incoming solar radiation, integrated IMU data, integrated GPS data, streamlined workflow.
This integrated system (camera + software) allows for easier exploration of the relationship between spectral and structural influences on scaling the effects of how vegetation responds to climate change in the Arctic.”
Stay tuned to learn more about each winning project and how drone mapping technology helps study the effects of climate change on this variety of essential global ecosystems.
Image: L-R top row - Robert M. Pringle, Dr. Chris Field, Gillian Maggs-Kölling, L-R bottom row - Holly P. Jones, Lluís Brotons, Jeffrey Kerby
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