Temperature monitoring in climate change research using UAV thermal imaging
Billions of people suffer the effects of inadequate access to water. Strategies for mitigating and adapting to such outcomes are urgently needed. Maintenance of healthy vegetation is a necessary pre-condition of this globally-preferential state. And for this purpose, a suitable tool is needed to inform how effective this effort is. Thermal imaging camera Workswell WIRIS ProSc allows to measure surface temperature over large areas very accurately, with high sensitivity and stability. It is therefore a useful tool that visualizes thermal process within the landscape. But why this is important and how it relates to climate change? The answer is simple – vegetation and its impact to local climate and temperature.
We know, that not only the „greenhouse effect” is responsible for climate change. Although it is mentioned in this context very often and nearly often exclusively. But warming due to land cover (vegetation) change may explain as much as 18% of current global warming trends. Such mentioned informations helps to highlight the necessity and importance of placing water and energy cycle feedbacks at the center of reforestation and forest-based mitigation goals , . Forest and vegetation restoration can positively impact water and energy cycles, local temperature and improve water availability.
Consequences for the local climate
Vegetation type and distribution, but also soil condition (especially its retention properties) have a significant effect on local microclimate and local air temperatures as well as soil surface temperature.
Well recognized as stores of carbon, vegetation also provide a broad range of less recognized benefits that are equally, if not more, important. Indeed, carbon sequestration can, and perhaps should, be viewed as one co-benefit of reforestation strategies designed to protect and intensify the hydrologic cycle and very important associated cooling. By evapo-transpiring, trees recharge atmospheric moisture, contributing to rainfall locally and in distant locations. Cooling is explicitly embedded in the capacity of trees to capture and redistribute the sun’s energy. This effect can be well observed with our Workswel WIRIS ProSc thermal imager, as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1.: Orthothermogram very describing the (local) climatic situation in southern Moravia in the Czech Republic (Central Europe). Captured by thermal imaging camera Workswell WIRIS ProSc.
Effects of forests on water and climate at local, regional and also continental scales through change in water and energy cycles, this is a well known fact (see Figure 2). But the picture says more than a thousand words and in those days can convince millions of people.
Vegetation is linked to rainfall and water availability
Alongside the local level, regional and continental policy-making frameworks are necessary for adequate consideration of transboundary forest, water and energy cycle interactions. And Workswell WIRIS ProSc could provide a visual and impressive feedback.
We belive, that our thermal imaging camera Workswell WIRIS ProSc could help in proces of climate change adaptation, mitigation, land use and water management. This constrains humanity’s ability to protect our planet’s climate and life-sustaining functions.
Demanding application for WIRIS ProSc thermal camera
See figure 1 – orthothermogram on the left is composed of 1500 separate thermograms (with 90% overlap), which were acquired by thermal camera Workswell WIRIS ProSc and composed in Pix4Dmapper software. Orthothermogram map an area of approximately 5 hectares (50,000 m2) and were taken by a drone during two separate flights (total flight time 50 min.) from a height of 70 m. Orthothermogram very well describes the (local) climatic situation in southern Moravia in the Czech Republic (Central Europe).
Using separate RGB image, we can use this thermogram to interpret an area of 5 hectares with huge temperature contrasts. We can take corrective actions and over time monitor their impact over time.
Workswel WIRIS ProSc is the only UAV thermal imaging camera that can meet all the requirements of this extremely demanding application. The main requirements are:
- highest thermal sensitivity (< 30 mk)
- really low temperature drift even during long flight
- very high homogeneity in thermogram
Water and plant management influence the local microclimate. By draining and removing greenery on large areas, we induce a desert climate, especially in cities or fields, that does not solve any technical equipment.
Thanks to this image, it is clear from which places in the landscape drought and loss of vegetation coming from. We can see that the naked hill (affected by deadly soil erosion) on the right above the vineyard warms its surroundings and reaches through the vineyard.
On the other hand, the vegetation to the left of the vineyard causes cooling, even in its immediate vicinity, which also reaches part of the vineyard (the vineyard itself covers an area of approximately 2 ha). The picture shows what remedial action should be taken and where it will be easiest to start restoring vegetation.
We believe, that in terms of land management, Workswell WIRIS ProSc is a useful tool. And with its help it is possible to localize, visualize and reverse local processes, the cause of which is currently considered global and the processes are considered as locally irreversible.
Special thanks to Doc. RNDr. Jan Pokorný, CSc. from ENKI institute. In this text we used materials from his lectures and education materials.
 R. Alkama, A. Cescatti, et al., Biophysical climate impacts of recent changes in global forest cover, Science, 351 (2016), pp. 600-604,
 DavidEllison, Cindy E.Morris, et al., Trees, forests and water: Cool insights for a hot world, Global Environmental Change Volume 43, March 2017, Pages 51-61