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Novel Measurements of Fine-Scale Albedo: Using a Commercial Quadcopter to Measure Radiation Fluxes

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA
Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824, USA
School of Informatics, Computing and Cyber Systems, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, USA
Center for Ecosystem Science and Society, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(8), 1303;
Received: 19 June 2018 / Revised: 21 July 2018 / Accepted: 15 August 2018 / Published: 18 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remotely Sensed Albedo)
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Remote sensing of radiative indices must balance spatially and temporally coarse satellite measurements with finer-scale, but geographically limited, in-situ surface measurements. Instruments mounted upon an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) can provide small-scale, mobile remote measurements that fill this resolution gap. Here we present and validate a novel method of obtaining albedo values using an unmodified quadcopter at a deciduous northern hardwood forest. We validate this method by comparing simultaneous albedo estimates by UAV and a fixed tower at the same site. We found that UAV provided stable albedo measurements across multiple flights, with results that were well within the range of tower-estimated albedo at similar forested sites. Our results indicate that in-situ albedo measurements (tower and UAV) capture more site-to-site variation in albedo than satellite measurements. Overall, we show that UAVs produce reliable, consistent albedo measurements that can capture crucial surface heterogeneity, clearly distinguishing between different land uses. Future application of this approach can provide detailed measurements of albedo and potentially other vegetation indices to enhance global research and modeling efforts. View Full-Text
Keywords: albedo; land use; remote sensing; Unmanned Aerial Vehicles; vegetation indices albedo; land use; remote sensing; Unmanned Aerial Vehicles; vegetation indices

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Levy, C.R.; Burakowski, E.; Richardson, A.D. Novel Measurements of Fine-Scale Albedo: Using a Commercial Quadcopter to Measure Radiation Fluxes. Remote Sens. 2018, 10, 1303.

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