Taking advantage of drones, since July 2013, a doctoral student at the National Institute for Research of the Amazon (Inpa), Carlos Celes, uses the device to obtain data and estimate the level of forest carbon.
The doctoral research in Tropical Forest Science was presented during the Final Seminar of the Project Cadaf (Carbon Dynamics of Amazonian Forest), held in late April. During the lecture “The use of drone quadricopter in obtaining remote sensing data for the Continuous Forest Inventory (IFC)”, Celes explained technical characteristics of the device, besides of showing how the process of obtaining images works and how photos are converted into data.
The model drone used in this research is the MD4-1000. The drone body is made of carbon fiber and is able to fly about 80 minutes. Among the advantages of using this equipment are the low cost of maintenance and operation, in addition to high resistance to temperature variations (withstands temperatures from -20° C to 50°C), rain and dust. According to Celes, the quadricopter is more versatile if compared to planes, which are used to make this kind of mapping.
During the flight, a camera is attached to the drone for capturing sequences of images to be superimposed to make three dimensional modellings of the overflown areas. Other possible works to be developed are clearing, shadow, texture, dendrology (the study of woody plants like trees and shrubs), phenology (the study of periodic phenomena of living beings and their relations with the environment), dendometry, hydrology, besides monitoring this data.
Besides the camera, is coupled to the drone a Lidar (Light Detection and Raging) sensor, which is a box that emits infrared laser pulses and takes pictures for the control of the area that the laser hits. This laser maps in four perpendicular planes and allows an improving in data capture.
The research Celes aims to “estimate the level of carbon in the forest and try to extrapolate this number to a larger area”. By doing this extrapolating, the goal is to reach the dynamics of this element to understand how this carbon is changing into the forest with trees falling, dying and growing.