The images, often narrow, dark strips punctuated by multicolored blobs, do not make much sense to those unfamiliar with hyperspectral imagery. To a trained eye, however, these aerial images are a peek into the environmental health of the land. The different colors can represent lead contamination, containers of hazardous substances or a hazardous substance spill working its way down a creek.
The Department of Natural Resources has partnered with the Missouri Wing Civil Air Patrol and the University of Missouri to capture and analyze these aerial images. Recognizing the uniqueness and cost-savings produced by this partnership, the team is the recipient of the 2010 Governor’s Award for Quality and Productivity in the Technology in Government category.
Through an agreement with the department, the Civil Air Patrol conducts flyovers of contaminated areas throughout the state. A special camera mounted to some Civil Air Patrol airplanes is able to detect many different substances by their wavelength, or location on the near visible and infrared light spectrum. These different substances show up as different colors through the camera after processing with special computer software.
Representatives from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Missouri
Wing Civil Air Patrol and the University of Missouri accepted the 2010 Governor’s
Award for Quality and Productivity in the Technology in Government category for
their work with collecting and analyzing hyperspectral images.
The resulting aerial photographs show department staff if contaminants are spreading, if a landfill cover is doing its job or the location of hazardous chemical containers, like propane tanks, after floods or other disasters.
Since 2005, hyperspectral imagery projects have collected more than 125 square miles of images at 20 different sites. The imagery covers a variety of contamination conditionsincluding environmental emergency response, landfill monitoring, chemical and radiological groundwater plume areas, mine waste, natural resource damage, long-term stewardship sites, open mine shafts and mine drainage.
More information on hyperspectral imagery examples of images and how the department is using this technology is available online at the Hyperspectral Imaging Projects Web page.