On the shore, the scientists – Wigdahl-Perry, collaborator Dr. Timothy de Smet of Binghamton University, and their undergraduate student researchers – eagerly await the Hyperspectral data the microHSI™ 410 SHARK collects. The sensor, crafted in Keene, New Hampshire, takes incoming light reflected off surfaces and divides it into many spectral bands, most of which are not visible to the human eye. Every material – soil, water, vegetation, a coffee cup – has a unique spectral signature based on how it reflects or emits electromagnetic radiation.
Whether handheld, flown in a drone, or orbiting the Earth, an HSI sensor takes pictures that, when paired with the right software, can discriminate differences based upon a material's spectral signature. The microHSI™ 410 SHARK is not only compact and lightweight, it delivers exceptional spectral imaging performance, detecting environmental abnormalities, such as pipeline leaks. This sensor is optimized for the commercial remote sensing market, more specifically precision agriculture, environmental terrain and vegetation assessment and management, and mineral exploration. Data from these sensors have infrastructure and defense uses, as well.
In this case, the HSI sensor can detect HABs in their various states of growth and can identify where they begin and how they move.
“Traditional approaches for monitoring HABs rely on limited sampling locations or bystander reports. There aren’t many times we can use a spatial, systematic approach to understand what happens over the lifespan of the bloom,” Wigdahl-Perry said. “The hyperspectral cameras in the drone allow us to look at more areas of the lake simultaneously and differentiate the harmful groups of algae versus the non-harmful.”
The information gathered by the scientists via the HSI sensor can help lake managers mitigate blooms and prevent them in the future. Treatments vary by lake, but the information can help lake managers assess the nutrients that fuel HABs in the water.