NOAA and Ryka UAS Teaming Up on Wetland Restoration Project

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SEATTLE, WA. (June 22, 2017) – This month, Ryka UAS will begin working on a wetland restoration project with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). With 28 populations of salmon and steelhead listed as threatened or endangered due to habitat loss, Ryka UAS has been brought on to help evaluate the wetland restoration process through the use of drones and remote sensing. Other collaborators include the National Park Service (NPS) and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). Each group will play a very important role in developing an effective restoration plan and executing it including approval from the NPS to fly within the Lewis and Clark National Park.

Spectral Profiles

By equipping drones with Hyper-Spectral sensors, NOAA will be able to create catalogs of Pacific Northwest vegetation and invasive species that become harmful to wetland environments. This data will enable NOAA to analyze the status of the wetlands in an extremely detailed and comprehensive manner compared to traditional satellite and manned aircraft methods. The cataloged spectra collected from the imager will be formatted into a spectral library.

Spectral Profile
Figure 1. Example of a Spectral Profile

A spectral library is simply a template that aids in the identification of peptides and proteins, which in this case, are the various types of vegetation in the wetlands. As the health of the wetlands being vital to the survival of juvenile salmon and other aquatic species, NOAA plans to publish the results so other researches can apply similar methods to restoration efforts. This includes easily identifying undesired invasive species in wetland habitats.

With the use of a hyper-spectral imager, the project team will construct the catalog of plant communities and environmental attributes in the wetlands as well as data analysis routines that assist in tracking the progress of the wetlands.

The data from these routines will help the NOAA and the NPS make extremely well informed decisions and optimize the wetland restoration process.

Orthophoto
Figure 2. Orthophoto of Lewis and Clark Restoration Site

Project Goals

Overall, Ryka UAS and NOAA hope to establish an updateable, open source spectral library for wetland environments, codify protocols for flight operations, and codify protocols for image processing, analytics, and applications to wetland environments. In order to execute these goals, NOAA will be going through a Technology Readiness Level process. Starting with fundamental research and ending with a fully operational system, the team will move through this process to ensure that the R&D methods are effective and properly executed. There are 9 different Technology Readiness Levels that include phases of research, development, demonstration, and application.

Ryka is extremely excited to be involved in such a significant project and collaborating with a great team to achieve the overall goal of restoring wetland habitats.

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