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Unmanned Aircraft systems (UAS) can offer a valuable perspective for detecting and monitoring for eutrophication in bodies of water by providing high-resolution images and data assignments for algal blooms and nutrient levels. Eutrophication, the process by which water bodies become enriched with nutrients, has emerged as a critical factor in evaluating and maintaining water quality. In this study, we use DJI Inspire Pro 1 equipped with a Zenmuse X3 camera, attached with a Parrot Sequoia multispectral sensor was used to in conjunction with algorithms to retrieve Chlorophyll parameters for monitoring eutrophication. Although water quality parameters such as pH, nitrate, phosphate, and dissolved oxygen are common indicators for monitoring eutrophication, analysis of aerial images captured by UAS can potentially be a more cost-effective method for monitoring a large body of water. Chlorophyll a (Chl a) is given a priority for this research and analysis due to Chl a being the trusted trophic state indicator and is the recognized by the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ) as the most useful means of estimating algal biomass in most reservoirs.

In this study, we used DJI Inspire Pro 1 drone with Zenmuse X3 camera attached with a Parrot Sequoia with multi-light censoring to capture multispectral imaging that can be further processed into PIX4Dmapper software for more quantitative analysis such as Chl a analysis for monitoring eutrophication. We successfully assembled the drone system and used a controlled method for standardizing spectral images of water with a known concentration of chlorophyll. We demonstrated that the images captured by Parrot Sequoia could detect the presence of 3 chlorophyll in water when compared to an untreated control at various heights (3 m - 14 m). We further assessed the applicability of PIX4D software to process and analyze the images with various spectral bandwidths.


Research Project Report (Non-Thesis Track)

Department of Mathematical, Physical, and Engineering Sciences

Texas A&M University - San Antonio

In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of


December 2023