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UAV-based remote sensing and georeferencing of greenhouse gases, energy balance components and characteristics of the earth?s surface

The project is part of the major topic ‘Transdisciplinary approaches on remote sensing based on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) for climatological and environmental purposes’ and is funded by GRACE (Graduate School for Climate and Environment (http://www.grace.kit.edu/english/index.php). Other participants in this project belong to different institutes of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).


The aim of this study is the development of a module with suitable instruments for measurements based on an UAV and its application for different climatological and environmental objectives. In this aspect, spatially distributed measurements of greenhouse gas emissions (e.g. methane), in-situ parameters to describe turbulent fluxes, radiation parameters for the energy balance as well as characteristics of the earth’s surface like skin temperature, soil moisture and albedo are performed.

Advantages of such small UAVs are the application of different meteorological sensors or cameras, the flexibility of measurement sites and their cost-efficient operation. In our case, we use a Multicopter as UAV to have the ability of holding specific positions and fly vertical profiles during the measurements.


These UAV-based measurements will be compared to and complemented by other remote sensing techniques as well as ground-based in-situ measurements. Multicopters are especially suitable for small-scale spatially distributed environmental variables, both vertically and horizontally. In addition to different sensors, an autopilot and GPS (Global Positioning System) is installed on the UAV for autonomous flights.

Besides, the measured data will be georeferenced by using a Geographic Information System (GIS) to drive regional meteorological, hydrological and biogeochemical models on a new basis and to validate the model output.


Contacts: Caroline Brosy, Harald Kunstmann, Wolfgang Junkermann, Klaus Schäfer, Stefan Emeis