OVERLAND FLOW ANALYSIS USING TIME SERIES OF SUAS-DERIVED ELEVATION MODELS
Keywords: UAS, UAV, sUAS, lidar, digital elevation model, overland flow modeling, path sampling
Abstract. With the advent of the innovative techniques for generating high temporal and spatial resolution terrain models from Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) imagery, it has become possible to precisely map overland flow patterns. Furthermore, the process has become more affordable and efficient through the coupling of small UAS (sUAS) that are easily deployed with Structure from Motion (SfM) algorithms that can efficiently derive 3D data from RGB imagery captured with consumer grade cameras. We propose applying the robust overland flow algorithm based on the path sampling technique for mapping flow paths in the arable land on a small test site in Raleigh, North Carolina. By comparing a time series of five flights in 2015 with the results of a simulation based on the most recent lidar derived DEM (2013), we show that the sUAS based data is suitable for overland flow predictions and has several advantages over the lidar data. The sUAS based data captures preferential flow along tillage and more accurately represents gullies. Furthermore the simulated water flow patterns over the sUAS based terrain models are consistent throughout the year. When terrain models are reconstructed only from sUAS captured RGB imagery, however, water flow modeling is only appropriate in areas with sparse or no vegetation cover.