Passive optical remote sensing of channel bathymetry for monitoring of large river morphodynamics

Air photos and satellite images offer a comprehensive perspective on rivers that can be useful for the study and management of aquatic ecosystems. In particular, water depths can be determined remotely by relating image properties (color, brightness, etc.) to depths measured through fieldwork. However, this reliance on field data for calibration of the depth/image relationship requires costly, sometimes dangerous fieldwork and means the methods cannot be applied to data sources without associated field-measured depths. This project aims to test the applicability of a newly developed framework that uses equations that mathematically describe flow of water through rivers to help constrain estimated depths from remote sensing imagery without the need for field calibration. By applying and the Flow REsistance Equation-Based Imaging of River Depths (FREEBIRD) framework to satellite and air photo imagery of Peace River, BC, the project will test the method’s suitability to measure depth on large rivers. Testing the results against available hydraulic data and available field measurements will allow for quantification of data quality relative to currently used methods. TO BE CONT’D

Faculty Supervisor:

Brett Eaton


Aaron Tamminga


BC Hydro


Geography / Geology / Earth science


Environmental industry


University of British Columbia



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