Summary

Wetlands cover substantial portions of the world's land and shore regions and represent significant components of the Earth's environment. Thus, wetlands attract considerable public interest and scientific attention, for which small-format aerial photography (SFAP) is well suited to provide low-cost imagery with high spatial, temporal, and spectral resolutions. Equipment is lightweight, compact, and easily transported into wetland environments, and silent operation of some platforms—kites, blimps, balloons—does not disturb sensitive wildlife. SFAP is a means to overview restricted wetland preserves that may be closed to the public (Fig. 14-27).

SFAP can be taken in all possible orientations and in all directions relative to the ground target and sun position. This gives the capability to acquire images quite different from conventional airphotos, and so increases the potential for recognizing particular ground-cover conditions. The combination of high spatial resolution and frequent repeated photography provides a means for highly focused investigations of specific sites in various types of wetland environments.

Masing (1998) envisioned a multilevel approach in mire research and mapping that ranges in scale from 1:10 (most detailed) to 1:10,000,000 (most generalized). Conventional airphotos and satellite imagery span the scale range 1:10001:100,000 and smaller. SFAP fills the scale range 1:1001:1000 and, thus, bridges the gap between ground surveys and traditional remote sensing. This level of scale and resolution is best suited for permanent wetland study plots and control sites. SFAP represents one level of data acquisition in a multistage approach that includes ground observations, conventional airphotos, and satellite images.

FIGURE 14-27 Panoramic view over Laudholm beach and the mouth of the Little River at the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve on the Atlantic coast of southeastern Maine, United States. Aside from the beach, a path through the forest (lower left), and a small observation platform (*) this wetland environment is closed to the public. Two helium-blimp aerial photographs stitched together for this superwide-angle view; JSA, SWA, and V. Valentine, August 2009.

FIGURE 14-27 Panoramic view over Laudholm beach and the mouth of the Little River at the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve on the Atlantic coast of southeastern Maine, United States. Aside from the beach, a path through the forest (lower left), and a small observation platform (*) this wetland environment is closed to the public. Two helium-blimp aerial photographs stitched together for this superwide-angle view; JSA, SWA, and V. Valentine, August 2009.

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