Integrating high resolution remote sensing of multi-scale hydrogeomorphology into long-term river management

Large northward-flowing boreal rivers are an important hydroelectric resource, but effects of river regulation on downstream geomorphology and aquatic ecosystems are difficult to predict. Peace River, BC presents an ideal case study of river response to regulation, with continuous monitoring since dam construction in 1967. However, current understanding of system changes is based mainly on periodic ground-based measurements that may be less sensitive to characterize complexity at the scales at which the river responds. This project aims to incorporate recently developed fluvial remote sensing methods into the ongoing research and monitoring of Peace River through investigation of three specific questions (1) how does geomorphic change affect in-stream hydraulics and aquatic habitat? (2) how can unmanned aerial vehicle-based remote sensing and photogrammetry be used to characterize the stability and function of constructed habitat compensation features under changing flow conditions? and (3) how do flow regulation and geomorphic change alter riparian vegetation succession? The proposed research will involve the development of automated image processing workflows for the derivation of fluvial features of interest at appropriate scales for each question, providing a flexible framework that will be set up to accommodate incoming remote sensing data and complement field based studies.

Aaron Tamminga
Faculty Supervisor: 
Brett Eaton
British Columbia
Partner University: