Teacher George Skraba Reising is pleased with the progress his team of students in making on their mapping project of the stream drainages in the Seward area. The students are working in conjunction with local hydrologist Dan Mahalak to create 3D elevation maps of the creeks that are prone to flooding. Creating these maps is a process that takes several steps.
First each student takes a different drainage and plans the complete mission. A mission includes programing the hexacopter with the flight path, setting up the camera to record continuous images throughout the flight, and having a backup pilot in case something goes wrong. The student in charge keeps an eye on weather conditions and makes sure all safety protocol are followed. When the flight is complete the student collects the image data and sends it off to UAF to be processed on a big computer at the Geophysical Institute using a free modeling program called agisoft. Agisoft stitches together all of the photos and builds a detailed digital elevation model (DEM) of the stream drainage. When the DEMs are collected for the major streams in the Seward area, the students will share it with local hydrologist Dan Mahalak and present information to the local flood control board. The DEMs will help this group in allocating resources to prevent and mitigate future issues due to flooding. To date there has been one successful flight in the Stony Creek area, the next flight is planned for February 9th.