Using Drones for Polar Bear Research

A team of San Diego Zoo Global scientists and Northrop Grumman Corporation engineers have returned home from a successful trip aimed at collecting sea ice data in Canada’s Hudson Bay. This was the second year of this unique collaboration, designed to better understand the performance requirements for new technology used to study critical polar bear habitat. The ultimate goal is to more precisely monitor sea ice habitat in a changing climate, in order to better inform future conservation strategies. During the mission, named Operation #PolarEye, the team used a customized unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to provide a more detailed, finer-scale view of sea ice habitat, and to observe polar bears without disturbing the animals or posing a risk to humans. Equipped with four integrated sensors operating simultaneously, the UAS flew 11 sea ice mapping missions and collected an array of habitat data, including three-dimensional sea ice maps and multispectral data—at highly detailed subcentimeter resolution. The team also tested the ability of the UAS to detect tracks and signs left behind by polar bears as they migrate from land to sea ice. Full story: Facebook - Instagram - Twitter - Tumblr - Pinterest - Snapchat: sandiegozoo
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