UAS Supports Science

Science Center Objects

Affordable and dependable sUAS and the integration of highly advanced sensors has created remarkably novel capabilities for safer, more cost-efficient remotely sensed data collection.

USGS performs the studies needed to create the scientific foundation upon which policymakers, natural resource managers, and the public can make informed decisions about the management of natural resources on which they and others depend. UAS now plays a vital role in data collection for these scientific studies by addressing the data-gaps left between satellite-based observations (limited by image resolution, atmospheric conditions, and acquisition timelines), manned aircraft collection (often infeasible due to safety concerns, the need for low altitude flights, high costs, and hazardous conditions) and ground efforts (time-consuming and increases personnel exposure to adverse conditions and safety risks). UAS data collection can also require only minimal lead-time, which allows for rapid and flexible response to unique and time-sensitive events. All these characteristics have enabled UAS to become one of the best tools for gathering the repeatable, scientifically valid observations needed to support the science that leads to better policy decisions, which benefits all Americans.

Data collected by sUAS supports a wide variety of studies, data releases, and scientific publications:

March 18, 2021
Enumerating White‐Tailed Deer Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

March 18, 2021
Lava effusion rate evolution and erupted volume during the 2018 Kīlauea lower East Rift Zone eruption

February 22, 2021
Aerial imagery and structure-from-motion data products from UAS survey of the intertidal zone at Post Point, Bellingham Bay, WA, June 2019

February 22, 2021
Aerial imagery and structure-from-motion data products from UAS survey of the intertidal zone at Puget Creek and Dickman Mill Park, Tacoma, WA, June 2019

February 18, 2021
Unoccupied Aircraft Systems (UAS) video of the 2018 lower East Rift Zone eruption of Kīlauea Volcano, Hawaii

February 2021
Quantifying plant-soil-nutrient dynamics in rangelands: Fusion of UAV hyperspectral-LiDAR, UAV multispectral-photogrammetry, and ground-based LiDAR-digital photography in a shrub-encroached desert grassland

January 28, 2021
Near-field Remote Sensing of River Velocity, Bathymetry, Floodplain Topography, and Discharge at the Arkansas River at Parkdale, Colorado, USA, March 2018

November 29, 2020
Fossil Hunting Is Entering a New Technological Age

November 20, 2020
Small atoll fresh groundwater lenses respond to a combination of natural climatic cycles and human modified geology

October 12, 2020
QCam: sUAS-Based Doppler Radar for Measuring River Discharge

October 9, 2020
Drone- and ground-based measurements of velocity, depth, and discharge collected during 2017-18 at the Arkansas and South Platte Rivers in Colorado and the Salcha and Tanana Rivers in Alaska, USA

September 25, 2020
From Lava to Water: A New Era at Kilauea

September 25, 2020
Predicting Bird Guilds Using Vegetation Composition and Structure on a Wild and Scenic River in Arizona

September 19, 2020
Ultra‐high‐resolution mapping of biocrusts with Unmanned Aerial Systems

August 17, 2020
Aerial imagery and structure-from-motion derived data products from UAS survey of the Liberty Island Conservation Bank Wildlands restoration site, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, California, October 2018

July 31, 2020
Low-altitude aerial imagery from unmanned aerial systems (UAS) at select locations over the Potomac River, October 2019

June 2, 2020
CountryMapper Sensor Validation Survey Data

May 1, 2020
Using Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems for Measuring Post-Flood High-Water Marks and Streambed Elevations

April 21, 2020
Topographic and Sediment Size Data from Fountain Creek between Colorado Springs and the Confluence with the Arkansas River, Colorado, 2019

April 9, 2020
Volcanological applications of unoccupied aircraft systems (UAS): Developments, strategies, and future challenges

April 1, 2020
Overall results and key findings on the use of UAV visible-color, multispectral, and thermal infrared imagery to map agricultural drainage pipes

March 23, 2020
Photogrammetric data collected by small unoccupied aircraft system for vegetation analysis at three study reaches along the Verde River, Arizona, December 2017

2020
Time Series of Structure-from-Motion Products—Orthomosaics, Digital Elevation Models, and Point Clouds: Madeira Beach, Florida, July 2017 to June 2018

2020
Time Series of Aerial Imagery from Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Associated Ground Control Points: Madeira Beach, Florida, July 2017 to June 2018

2020
Using small unmanned aircraft systems for measuring post-flood high-water marks and streambed elevations

December 12, 2019
Cyclic lava effusion during the 2018 eruption of Kilauea Volcano: data release

December 6, 2019
Cyclic lava effusion during the 2018 eruption of Kilauea Volcano

December 2019
Reach-Scale Monitoring and Modeling of Rivers - Expanding Hydraulic Data Collection Beyond the Cross Section

2019
Reach-Scale Monitoring Network

November 19, 2019
Orthoimagery and elevation data derived from UAS imagery for Palmyra Atoll, USA 2016

November 8, 2019
Variable normal-fault rupture behavior, northern Lost River fault zone, Idaho, USA

August 6, 2019
Orthoimagery and elevation data for Bluffton Native Habitat Waterway, Indiana, 2016

July 29, 2019
Digital Surface Models for the northern 16 km of the 1983 Borah Peak earthquake rupture, northern Lost River fault zone (Idaho, USA)

July 24, 2019
Using UAS Capabilities To Help Identify Hummock-Hollow Formation and Fragmentation in Critical Marsh Habitat (Spartina patens) for Mottled Ducks in Southeast Texas

July 10, 2019
Geotagged Low-Altitude Aerial Imagery From Unmanned Aerial Systems Flights Over Town Neck Beach, in Sandwich, Massachusetts, With Associated Ground Control Points, and Transects Collected by the U.S. Geological Survey on January 22, January 25, February 11, March 30, and September 21, 2016

May 29, 2019
Aerial imagery from unmanned aerial systems (UAS) flights and ground control points: Plum Island Estuary and Parker River NWR (PIEPR), February 27th, 2018.

April 29, 2019
A partnership to protect critical infrastructure

February 21, 2019
Geotagged Low-Altitude Aerial Imagery from Unmanned Aerial Systems Flights over Town Neck Beach in Sandwich, Massachusetts, With Associated Ground Control Points, and Transects, Collected on January 9, January 25, February 14, March 16, April 28, May 4, and September 18, 2017

January 25, 2019
The 2018 rift eruption and summit collapse of Kīlauea Volcano

January 2019
Delineation of tile-drain networks using thermal and multispectral imagery—Implications for water quantity and quality differences from paired edge-of-field sites

October 15, 2018
Mapping and measuring aeolian sand dunes with photogrammetry and LiDAR from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and multispectral satellite imagery on the Paria Plateau, AZ, USA

July 17, 2018
Understanding Floods | Long-term Streamflow Data Collection

July 9, 2018
Aerial imagery and photogrammetric products from unmanned aerial systems (UAS) flights over the Lake Ontario shoreline at Chimney Bluffs, New York, July 14, 2017

June 20, 2018
Aerial imagery and photogrammetric products from unmanned aerial systems (UAS) flights over the Lake Ontario shoreline at Sodus Bay, New York, July 12 to 14, 2017

May 15, 2018
Low-altitude multispectral and thermal-infrared imagery from agricultural fields, Black Creek basin, Allen County, IN - spring 2017

May 8, 2018
Advances in Streamgaging | Reach-Scale Monitoring Experiment (2 of 2)

February 2, 2018
Aerial imagery and photogrammetric products from unmanned aerial systems (UAS) flights over the Lake Ontario shoreline at Braddock Bay, New York, July 10 to 11, 2017

January 30, 2018
UAS imagery acquisition for McFaddin NWR and J.D. Murphree WMA acquired fall 2017

October 3, 2017
UAS-SfM for Coastal Research: Geomorphic Feature Extraction and Land Cover Classification from High-Resolution Elevation and Optical Imagery

August 28, 2017
Topographic Survey Data from Photogrammetry of Fountain Creek between Colorado Springs and the Confluence of Fountain Creek at the Arkansas River, Colorado, 2017

June 15, 2017
UAV lidar and hyperspectral fusion for forest monitoring in the southwestern USA

2017
Drones for Three-Dimensional Modeling of Devil’s Tower National Monument

September 20, 2016
Low-altitude aerial imagery and related field observations associated with unmanned aerial systems (UAS) flights over Coast Guard Beach, Nauset Spit, Nauset Inlet, and Nauset Marsh, Cape Cod National Seashore, Eastham, Massachusetts on 1 March 2016