Micro-Climate Fuels Estimation
Recent advances in the use of visual odometry software has filtered back to mapping companies, whose up to date software allows the creation of accurate contour lines of equal elevation. Resolutions and accuracy vary, but .25 cm vertical accuracy is not uncommon when data collection tools and human factors align. Training is the key.
The important point to make in this post is that we did this without any "boots on the ground" which means the coverage by one pilot working alone from a distance was "safer" and "faster" than traditional methods. Over the course of 22 flights in 2 days (could have been done in 1 day with 2 pilots) an area of more than 400 acres was mapped and fuels estimate metrics were created.
This project is focused on supplementing the space-based observations used in fuels assessment and wildfire threat and prevention in micro-climates where space-based sensors fall short. Elevation is a critical variable in forecasting relative humidity in the canyons, and an elevation derivative (grade) is a critical variable in forecasting also plays an important role in the erosion forecast formula which in turn impacts vegetation replenishment and fuels accumulation.