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Analysis of Irrigation by Remote Sensing (AIRS) supports water sustainability

Aerial images and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) at different resolutions.
Photo by Annelise Capener

Irrigation is the largest consumptive use of water globally and in the United States. On urban parcels in particular, irrigation is difficult to measure and manage because of so many variables in landscape size, shape, quality, and water use behavior.

Annelise Capener, a graduate student in the Sustainability Lab, is studying how remote sensing can help. In a new article, "Pathways to Enhancing Analysis of Irrigation by Remote Sensing (AIRS) in Urban Settings," co-authored with with Dr. Rob Sowby and Dr. Gus Williams, she lays out options for public and private imagery and evapotranspiration data that can be combined for spatially sensitive irrigation estimates that also reflect the quality of vegetation. When combined with on-site water use records, the results can be part of a feedback process to inform users about sustainable water use.

Annelise's next step is to use aerial drones to capture custom study areas in high resolution to verify the public imagery and streamline the process of customer feedback.