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Drones 2019, 3(1), 27;

A UAV-Based Sensor System for Measuring Land Surface Albedo: Tested over a Boreal Peatland Ecosystem

Canada Center for Remote Sensing, Natural Resources Canada, Ottawa, ON K1S 5K2, Canada
University of Toronto, Department of Geography, Toronto, ON M5S 3G3, Canada
Geology Survey of Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Ottawa, ON K1A 0E8, Canada
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 22 February 2019 / Revised: 4 March 2019 / Accepted: 12 March 2019 / Published: 16 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Drones for Biodiversity Conservation and Ecological Monitoring)
PDF [5816 KB, uploaded 26 March 2019]


A multiple sensor payload for a multi-rotor based UAV platform was developed and tested for measuring land surface albedo and spectral measurements at user-defined spatial, temporal, and spectral resolutions. The system includes a Matrice 600 UAV with an RGB camera and a set of four downward pointing radiation sensors including a pyranometer, quantum sensor, and VIS and NIR spectrometers, measuring surface reflected radiation. A companion ground unit consisting of a second set of identical sensors simultaneously measure downwelling radiation. The reflected and downwelling radiation measured by the four sensors are used for calculating albedo for the total shortwave broadband, visible band and any narrowband at a 1.5 nm spectral resolution within the range of 350–1100 nm. The UAV-derived albedo was compared with those derived from Landsat 8 and Sentinel-2 satellite observations. Results show the agreement between total shortwave albedo from UAV pyranometer and Landsat 8 (R2 = 0.73) and Sentinel-2 (R2 = 0.68). Further, total shortwave albedo was estimated from spectral measurements and compared with the satellite-derived albedo. This UAV-based sensor system promises to provide high-resolution multi-sensors data acquisition. It also provides maximal flexibility for data collection at low cost with minimal atmosphere influence, minimal site disturbance, flexibility in measurement planning, and ease of access to study sites (e.g., wetlands) in contrast with traditional data collection methods. View Full-Text
Keywords: UAV; albedo; hyperspectral; Landsat 8; Sentinel-2 UAV; albedo; hyperspectral; Landsat 8; Sentinel-2

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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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Canisius, F.; Wang, S.; Croft, H.; Leblanc, S.G.; Russell, H.A.J.; Chen, J.; Wang, R. A UAV-Based Sensor System for Measuring Land Surface Albedo: Tested over a Boreal Peatland Ecosystem. Drones 2019, 3, 27.

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