Thermal infrared image of groundwater discharge along stream bank
Thermal image displayed as an inset of the true-color photograph taken in the field. Thermal image indicates water temperature, where warmer temperatures are represented as red and cooler temperatures as blue. The image presents an area where cooler groundwater (blue) may be discharging along a warm stream bank in mid-summer. The photo spans an area about 3 meters across. The temperature scale is in degrees Celsius. USGS/Image by Martin Briggs.
USGS Science Centers are using high-resolution handheld thermal imaging cameras in groundwater/surface-water interaction studies and other investigations where thermal signatures are of interest. The cameras can be used to image streams, lakes, and adjacent structures (e.g., banks, bars, seeps, etc.) to quickly locate and characterize thermal anomalies in real time at a scale of centimeters to tens of meters. Variations in temperature can be used to track (or trace) the heat carried by flowing water, such as during groundwater discharge into a stream.