Development of a Simplified Radiometric Calibration Framework for Water-Based and Rapid Deployment Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Operations
The current study sets out to develop an empirical line method (ELM) radiometric calibration framework for the reduction of atmospheric contributions in unmanned aerial systems (UAS) imagery and for the production of scaled remote sensing reflectance imagery. Using a MicaSense RedEdge camera flown on a custom-built octocopter, the research reported herein finds that atmospheric contributions have an important impact on UAS imagery. Data collected over the Lower Pearl River Estuary in
... tuary in Mississippi during five week-long missions covering a wide range of environmental conditions were used to develop and test an ELM radiometric calibration framework designed for the reduction of atmospheric contributions from UAS imagery in studies with limited site accessibility or data acquisition time constraints. The ELM radiometric calibration framework was developed specifically for water-based operations and the efficacy of using generalized study area calibration equations averaged across variable illumination and atmospheric conditions was assessed. The framework was effective in reducing atmospheric and other external contributions in UAS imagery. Unique to the proposed radiometric calibration framework is the radiance-to-reflectance conversion conducted externally from the calibration equations which allows for the normalization of illumination independent from the time of UAS image acquisition and from the time of calibration equation development. While image-by-image calibrations are still preferred for high accuracy applications, this paper provides an ELM radiometric calibration framework that can be used as a time-effective calibration technique to reduce errors in UAS imagery in situations with limited site accessibility or data acquisition constraints.