The objective of this work is to demonstrate the potential of emerging integrated airborne remote sensing technologies to meet the Department of Defense (DoD)'s environmental monitoring requirements over broad areas, at high resolutions, and with reasonable costs. The DoD, and particularly the Navy and Marine Corps, relies heavily on strategic island and coastal sites for training and testing activities. Federal laws require that any potential impacts of DoD activities to these sensitive environments be closely monitored and mitigated, an obligation that can require costly, extensive field surveys. This project will demonstrate the ability to integrate multiple sensors into an airborne package, use the data to map coastlines seamlessly from upland areas through subtidal zones, detect geographic and subtidal habitat changes therein, and document the link or nonexistence of a link between environmental changes and DoD activities. This is a powerful new capability that the DoD can adopt to better manage the balance between mission and environmental requirements.

Technology Description

This project will incorporate a bathymetric LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) into an existing airborne remote sensing package comprised of topographic LiDAR integrated with visible, infrared, and hyperspectral imagery. While lasers used in topographic LiDAR systems are generally found in the near infrared band of the electromagnetic spectrum (e.g. 750-1400nm), lasers used for bathymetric studies typically operate in the blue-green range (e.g. 450-570nm) for maximum penetration through the water column. The integration of these different LiDAR lasers will enable us to create high-resolution, seamless Digital Elevation Maps (DEMs) spanning the land-sea interface. Adding airborne hyperspectral data will permit the classification of benthic habitat classes at greater accuracy and resolution than typical satellite multispectral data. Our overall benchmark for success will be to show that collectively, data from this airborne remote sensing package can support analysis directly linking training and testing activities with their environmental impacts, either on land or in coastal waters.


This application of this new airborne remote sensing package (containing multi-wavelength, bathy-topo scanning LiDAR integrated with visible, infrared, and hyperspectral imagery) to the required environmental monitoring at DoD sites will demonstrate the ability of such systems to provide rapid, comprehensive assessment of training and testing impacts. Benefits include the ability to monitor large areas at reasonable cost, as well as the creation of objective, archivable datasets.