Algal blooms have become major public health and ecosystem vitality concerns globally. The prevalence of blooms has increased due to warming water and additional nutrient inputs into aquatic systems. In response, various remotely-sensed methods of detection, analysis, and forecasting have been developed. Satellite imaging has proven successful in the identification of various inland and coastal blooms at large spatial and temporal scales, and airborne platforms offer higher spatial and often spectral resolution at targeted temporal frequencies. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have recently emerged as another tool for algal bloom detection, providing users with on-demand high spatial and temporal resolution at lower costs. However, due to the challenges of processing images of water, payload costs and limitations, and a lack of standardized methods, UAV-based algal bloom studies have not gained critical traction. This literature review explores the current state of this field, and highlights opportunities that could promote its growth. By understanding the technical parameters required to identify algal blooms with airborne platforms, and comparing these capabilities to current UAV technology, such knowledge will assist managers, researchers, and public health officials in utilizing UAVs to monitor and predict blooms at greater spatial and temporal precision, reducing exposure to potentially toxic events.
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