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Advanced imagery brings new angle to wetlands research

Joe SnowWater flowing through its natural environment follows loosely predictable paths according to the landscape structure around it, forming a hydrologic cycle that affects the entire planet. In wetland ecosystems, plants play an important role in purifying water and maintaining a healthy watershed, and human alterations to the landscape can diminish the natural system’s ability to filter water to its full potential. 

UNT has a legacy of research in water salient issues, with information and benefits flowing richly throughout north Texas into systems and organizations whose business is the study, regulation and mitigation of water issues, including municipalities managing waterways within their jurisdiction.

Sam AtkinsonRegents Professor of Biology Sam Atkinson, right, and his students are using advanced imaging technology to augment the study of wetlands and understand how plants contribute to their functioning. A combination of Global Positioning Satellites (GPS), governmental and private earth imaging satellites, and a variety of sophisticated Geographic Information System (GIS) resources from the Center for Remote Sensing offer great potential for gathering data, and tracking and evaluating water resources, croplands, rangelands, urbanization and a spectrum of conservation projects.

“Images from one season to the next can be precisely overlaid using geo-referencing points, making it easy to study correlations between vegetation, location, weather, and water quality,” Atkinson said. “We can virtually watch plant growth on a screen, using a slider bar to fade back and forth between images.”

— Julie West, Office of Research and Economic Development

(Above, UNT research scientist Joe Snow installs plants at the Grand Prairie wetland site, assisted by student Amanda Lindbergh. Photo by Amelia Jaycen. Below, a point cloud of the Denton wetland shows points that overlap in all remotely sensed images. Points are used to combine pieces of each photograph into one composite, high-resolution image for study.)

Point Cloud

Posted on: Tue 18 June 2013

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