Seeing through the water
University of Idaho Seed Grant
Differently from commercial Lidar systems, which only map terrestrial environments, the Experimental Advanced Airborne Lidar (EAARL) system is a unique and novel technology able to map both terrestrial and aquatic systems. It was developed to map coastal areas and it has been only recently applied to survey riverine systems. However, EAARL ability to describe stream bathymetry necessary for computational fluid dynamic models has not yet been tested. Thus, I have the unique opportunity to test whether the EAARL system can provide bathymetric information able to support two-dimensional hydraulic modeling. I propose to compare the results of water surface elevations, velocity and shear stress distributions predicted with MDSWMS, a two-dimensional hydraulic model, with EAARL-derived and ground-surveyed bathymetries. A positive comparison would allow the application of EAARL to study flooding, aquatic habitats and sediment transport at the watershed scale with high resolution (1m by 1m), which is unheard of and not feasible with traditional methods. Consequently, these results have the potential to transform the way we study riverine systems. I expect at least one scientific publication with the potential of a high impact on riverine science, several conference presentations and to revolutionize aquatic habitat modeling and sediment transport research approach.