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Unmanned Aircraft Survey of the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserves (NERRS)

Hot Item March 9, 2015

Northern Gulf Institute Crew preparing for launch

Northern Gulf Institute Crew preparing for launch of the Altavian UAS which will be used during the upcoming survey.

The NOAA Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Program in partnership with the Northern Gulf Institute (NGI) Cooperative Institute will support an aerial survey of the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserves System (NERRS) in late March. This survey will be a joint mission evaluating observation requirements capture for the Office for Coastal Management, Northern Gulf Institute, Grand Bay NERR, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Office of Protected Resources and National Weather Service (NWS) River Forecasting System.

This pilot project will evaluate the effectiveness of UAS's to meet requirements of NERRS, NMFS and the NWS including discriminating intertidal, identifying turtle habitat onshore and stranded turtles off shore, and developing high resolution Digital Elevation Maps. This program will also evaluate the ease and process for acquiring the airspace for the UAS operations. The technology will be evaluated using the Grand Bay NERR sentinel site infrastructure. A companion project at the Apalachicola NERR to evaluate unmanned system technology will follow.

The NOAA UAS Office is able to support Grand Bay NERR through its partnership with the Northern Gulf Institute (northerngulfinstitute.org). The NERR system hopes to use this experience to develop a NERRS Unmanned System Roadmap while refining NERRS' aerial observational requirements.