On the Use of Unmanned Aerial Systems for Environmental Monitoring

by S. Manfreda, M.F. McCabe, P.E. Miller, R. Lucas, V.P. Madrigal, G. Mallinis, E. Ben Dor, D. Helman, L. Estes, G. Ciraolo, J. Müllerová, F. Tauro, M. I. de Lima, J.L.M.P. de Lima, A. Maltese, F. Frances, K. Caylor, M. Kohv, M. Perks, G. Ruiz-Pérez, Z. Su, G. Vico, B. Toth
Year: 2018 DOI: 10.3390/rs10040641

Extra Information

Remote Sens. 2018, 10 (4), 641


​Environmental monitoring plays a central role in diagnosing climate and management impacts on natural and agricultural systems, enhancing the understanding hydrological processes, optimizing the allocation and distribution of water resources, and assessing, forecasting and even preventing natural disasters. Nowadays, most monitoring and data collection systems are based upon a combination of ground-based measurements, manned airborne sensors or satellite observations. These data are utilized in describing both small and large scale processes, but have spatiotemporal constraints inherent to each respective collection system. Bridging the unique spatial and temporal divides that limit current monitoring platforms is key to improving our understanding of environmental systems. In this context, Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) have considerable potential to radically evolve environmental monitoring. UAS-mounted sensors offer an extraordinary opportunity to bridge the existing gap between field observations and traditional air- and space-borne remote sensing, by providing not just high spatial detail over relatively large areas in a cost-effective way, but as importantly providing an entirely new capacity for enhanced temporal retrieval. As well as showcasing recent advances in the field, there is also a need to identify and understand the potential limitations of UAS technology. For these platforms to reach their monitoring potential, a wide spectrum of unresolved issues and applications specific challenges require focused community attention. Indeed, to leverage the full potential of UAS-based approaches, sensing technologies, measurement protocols, post-processing techniques, retrieval algorithms and evaluations techniques need to be harmonized. The aim of this paper is to provide a comprehensive general overview of the existing research on studies and applications of UAS in environmental monitoring in order to suggest users and researchers on future research directions, applications, developments and challenges.


UAS Remote sensing environmental monitoring precision agriculture vegetation indices Soil moisture river monitoring