Preprint Article Version 1 This version is not peer-reviewed

Water Level Measurements from Drones

Version 1 : Received: 10 January 2018 / Approved: 10 January 2018 / Online: 10 January 2018 (17:48:03 CET)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Ridolfi, E.; Manciola, P. Water Level Measurements from Drones: A Pilot Case Study at a Dam Site. Water 2018, 10, 297. Ridolfi, E.; Manciola, P. Water Level Measurements from Drones: A Pilot Case Study at a Dam Site. Water 2018, 10, 297.

Journal reference: Water 2018, 10, 297
DOI: 10.3390/w10030297

Abstract

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are now filling in the gaps between spaceborne and ground-based observations and enhancing the spatial resolution and temporal coverage of data acquisition. In the realm of hydrological observations, UAVs have a key role to quantitatively characterize the surface flow allowing for remotely accessing the water body of interest. In this paper we propose a technology which uses a sensing platform encompassing a drone and a camera to determine the water level. The images acquired my means of the sensing platform are then analyzed using the Canny method to detect the edges of water level and of Ground Control Points (GCPs) used as reference points. The water level is then retrieved from images and compared to a benchmark value obtained by a traditional device. The method is tested at four locations in an artificial lake in central Italy. Results are encouraging as the overall mean error between estimated and true water level values is around 0.02 m. This technology is well suited to improve hydraulic modeling and thus provide a reliable support to flood mitigation strategies also in uneasy-to-access environments.

Subject Areas

water level measurement; surface hydrology; unmanned aerial vehicle; drone; dam

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