skip to main content

Title: The Utility of Satellites and Autonomous Remote Sensing Platforms for Monitoring Offshore Aquaculture Farms: A Case Study for Canopy Forming Kelps
The emerging sector of offshore kelp aquaculture represents an opportunity to produce biofuel feedstock to help meet growing energy demand. Giant kelp represents an attractive aquaculture crop due to its rapid growth and production, however precision farming over large scales is required to make this crop economically viable. These demands necessitate high frequency monitoring to ensure outplant success, maximum production, and optimum quality of harvested biomass, while the long distance from shore and large necessary scales of production makes in person monitoring impractical. Remote sensing offers a practical monitoring solution and nascent imaging technologies could be leveraged to provide daily products of the kelp canopy and subsurface structures over unprecedented spatial scales. Here, we evaluate the efficacy of remote sensing from satellites and aerial and underwater autonomous vehicles as potential monitoring platforms for offshore kelp aquaculture farms. Decadal-scale analyses of the Southern California Bight showed that high offshore summertime cloud cover restricts the ability of satellite sensors to provide high frequency direct monitoring of these farms. By contrast, daily monitoring of offshore farms using sensors mounted to aerial and underwater drones seems promising. Small Unoccupied Aircraft Systems (sUAS) carrying lightweight optical sensors can provide estimates of canopy area, density, and more » tissue nitrogen content on the time and space scales necessary for observing changes in this highly dynamic species. Underwater color imagery can be rapidly classified using deep learning models to identify kelp outplants on a longline farm and high acoustic returns of kelp pneumatocysts from side scan sonar imagery signal an ability to monitor the subsurface development of kelp fronds. Current sensing technologies can be used to develop additional machine learning and spectral algorithms to monitor outplant health and canopy macromolecular content, however future developments in vehicle and infrastructure technologies are necessary to reduce costs and transcend operational limitations for continuous deployment in an offshore setting. « less
Authors:
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
1831937
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10308840
Journal Name:
Frontiers in Marine Science
Volume:
7
ISSN:
2296-7745
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Satellite and aerial imagery have been used extensively for mapping the abundance and distribution of giant kelp ( Macrocystis pyrifera ) in southern California. There is now great potential for using unoccupied aerial vehicles (UAVs) to map kelp canopy at very high resolutions. However, tides and currents have been shown to affect the amount of floating kelp canopy on the water surface, and the impacts of these processes on remotely sensed kelp estimates in this region have not been fully quantified. UAVs were used to map fine-scale changes in canopy area due to tidal height and current speed at kelpmore »forests off the coast of Palos Verdes, CA and Santa Barbara, CA. An automated method for detecting kelp canopy was developed that was 67% accurate using red-green-blue (RGB) UAV imagery and 93% accurate using multispectral UAV imagery across a range of weather, ocean, and illumination conditions. Increases in tidal height of 1 m reduced the amount of floating kelp canopy by 15% in Santa Barbara and by over 30% in Palos Verdes. The effect of current speed on visible kelp canopy was inconclusive, but there was a trend towards lower canopy area with increased current speed. Therefore, while tidal height and current speed can introduce significant variability to estimates of kelp abundance, the magnitude of this variability is site specific. Still, UAVs are a valuable tool for mapping of kelp canopy and can provide greater spatial resolution and temporal coverage than is possible from many satellite sensors. This data can provide insight into the patterns and drivers of high frequency fluctuations in kelp abundance.« less
  2. Large-scale continuous crop monitoring systems (CMS) are key to detect and manage agricultural production anomalies. Current CMS exploit meteorological and crop growth models, and satellite imagery, but have underutilized legacy sources of information such as operational crop expert surveys with long and uninterrupted records. We argue that crop expert assessments, despite their subjective and categorical nature, capture the complexities of assessing the “status” of a crop better than any model or remote sensing retrieval. This is because crop rating data naturally encapsulates the broad expert knowledge of many individual surveyors spread throughout the country, constituting a sophisticated network of “peoplemore »as sensors” that provide consistent and accurate information on crop progress. We analyze data from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Crop Progress and Condition (CPC) survey between 1987 and 2019 for four major crops across the US, and show how to transform the original qualitative data into a continuous, probabilistic variable better suited to quantitative analysis. Although the CPC reflects the subjective perception of many surveyors at different locations, the underlying models that describe the reported crop status are statistically robust and maintain similar characteristics across different crops, exhibit long-term stability, and have nation-wide validity. We discuss the origin and interpretation of existing spatial and temporal biases in the survey data. Finally, we propose a quantitative Crop Condition Index based on the CPC survey and demonstrate how this index can be used to monitor crop status and provide earlier and more precise predictions of crop yields than official USDA forecasts released midseason.« less
  3. Phenology is a distinct marker of the impacts of climate change on ecosystems. Accordingly, monitoring the spatiotemporal patterns of vegetation phenology is important to understand the changing Earth system. A wide range of sensors have been used to monitor vegetation phenology, including digital cameras with different viewing geometries mounted on various types of platforms. Sensor perspective, view-angle, and resolution can potentially impact estimates of phenology. We compared three different methods of remotely sensing vegetation phenology—an unoccupied aerial vehicle (UAV)-based, downward-facing RGB camera, a below-canopy, upward-facing hemispherical camera with blue (B), green (G), and near-infrared (NIR) bands, and a tower-based RGBmore »PhenoCam, positioned at an oblique angle to the canopy—to estimate spring phenological transition towards canopy closure in a mixed-species temperate forest in central Virginia, USA. Our study had two objectives: (1) to compare the above- and below-canopy inference of canopy greenness (using green chromatic coordinate and normalized difference vegetation index) and canopy structural attributes (leaf area and gap fraction) by matching below-canopy hemispherical photos with high spatial resolution (0.03 m) UAV imagery, to find the appropriate spatial coverage and resolution for comparison; (2) to compare how UAV, ground-based, and tower-based imagery performed in estimating the timing of the spring phenological transition. We found that a spatial buffer of 20 m radius for UAV imagery is most closely comparable to below-canopy imagery in this system. Sensors and platforms agree within +/− 5 days of when canopy greenness stabilizes from the spring phenophase into the growing season. We show that pairing UAV imagery with tower-based observation platforms and plot-based observations for phenological studies (e.g., long-term monitoring, existing research networks, and permanent plots) has the potential to scale plot-based forest structural measures via UAV imagery, constrain uncertainty estimates around phenophases, and more robustly assess site heterogeneity.« less
  4. Aquatic environments encompass the world’s most extensive habitats, rich with sounds produced by a diversity of animals. Passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) is an increasingly accessible remote sensing technology that uses hydrophones to listen to the underwater world and represents an unprecedented, non-invasive method to monitor underwater environments. This information can assist in the delineation of biologically important areas via detection of sound-producing species or characterization of ecosystem type and condition, inferred from the acoustic properties of the local soundscape. At a time when worldwide biodiversity is in significant decline and underwater soundscapes are being altered as a result of anthropogenicmore »impacts, there is a need to document, quantify, and understand biotic sound sources–potentially before they disappear. A significant step toward these goals is the development of a web-based, open-access platform that provides: (1) a reference library of known and unknown biological sound sources (by integrating and expanding existing libraries around the world); (2) a data repository portal for annotated and unannotated audio recordings of single sources and of soundscapes; (3) a training platform for artificial intelligence algorithms for signal detection and classification; and (4) a citizen science-based application for public users. Although individually, these resources are often met on regional and taxa-specific scales, many are not sustained and, collectively, an enduring global database with an integrated platform has not been realized. We discuss the benefits such a program can provide, previous calls for global data-sharing and reference libraries, and the challenges that need to be overcome to bring together bio- and ecoacousticians, bioinformaticians, propagation experts, web engineers, and signal processing specialists (e.g., artificial intelligence) with the necessary support and funding to build a sustainable and scalable platform that could address the needs of all contributors and stakeholders into the future.« less
  5. Abstract
    Excessive phosphorus (P) applications to croplands can contribute to eutrophication of surface waters through surface runoff and subsurface (leaching) losses. We analyzed leaching losses of total dissolved P (TDP) from no-till corn, hybrid poplar (Populus nigra X P. maximowiczii), switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), miscanthus (Miscanthus giganteus), native grasses, and restored prairie, all planted in 2008 on former cropland in Michigan, USA. All crops except corn (13 kg P ha−1 year−1) were grown without P fertilization. Biomass was harvested at the end of each growing season except for poplar. Soil water at 1.2 m depth was sampled weekly to biweekly for TDP determination during March–November 2009–2016More>>