The sky is the limit: reconstructing physical geography from an aerial perspective

Williams, R. D. , Tooth, S. and Gibson, M. (2017) The sky is the limit: reconstructing physical geography from an aerial perspective. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 41(1), pp. 134-146. (doi:10.1080/03098265.2016.1241986)

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Abstract

In an era of rapid geographical data acquisition, interpretations of remote sensing products are an integral part of many undergraduate geography degree schemes but there are fewer opportunities for collection and processing of primary remote sensing data. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) provide a relatively inexpensive opportunity to introduce the principles and practice of airborne remote sensing into fieldcourses, enabling students to learn about image acquisition, data processing and interpretation of derived products. Two case studies illustrate how a low cost “DJI Phantom Vision+” UAV can be used by students to acquire images that can be processed using Structure-from-Motion photogrammetry software. Results from a student questionnaire and analysis of assessed student reports showed that using UAVs enhanced student engagement and equipped them with data processing skills. The derivation of bespoke orthophotos and Digital Elevation Models has the potential to provide students with opportunities to gain insight into various remote sensing data quality issues, although additional training is required to maximise this potential. Recognition of the successes and limitations of this teaching intervention provides scope for improving future UAV exercises. UAVs are enabling both a reconstruction of how we measure the Earth’s surface and a reconstruction of how students do fieldwork.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Williams, Dr Richard
Authors: Williams, R. D., Tooth, S., and Gibson, M.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences > Geography
Journal Name:Journal of Geography in Higher Education
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:0309-8265
ISSN (Online):1466-1845
Published Online:26 October 2016
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor and Francis Group
First Published:First published in Journal of Geography in Higher Education 41(1): 134-146
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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