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  • Establishing a Series of Dust Event Case Studies for East Asia

    Abstract: Dust aerosols have a wide range of effects on air quality, health, land-management decisions, aircraft operations, and sensor data interpretations. Therefore, the accurate simulation of dust plume initiation and transport is a priority for operational weather centers. Recent advancements have improved the performance of dust prediction models, but substantial capability gaps remain when forecasting the specific location and timing of individual dust events, especially extreme dust outbreaks. Operational weather forecasters and US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) researchers established a series of reference case study events to enhance dust transport model evaluation. These reference case studies support research to improve modeled dust simulations, including efforts to increase simulation accuracy on when and where dust is lofted off the ground, dust aerosols transport, and dust-induced adverse air quality issues create hazardous conditions downstream. Here, we provide detailed assessments of four dust events for Central and East Asia. We describe the dust-event lifecycle from onset to end (or when dust transports beyond the area of interest) and the synoptic and mesoscale environ-mental conditions governing the process. Analyses of hourly reanalysis data, spaceborne lidar and aerosol optical depth retrievals, upper-air soundings, true-color satellite imagery, and dust-enhanced false-color imagery supplement the discussions.
  • Low Size, Weight, Power, and Cost (SWaP-C) Payload for Autonomous Navigation and Mapping on an Unmanned Ground Vehicle

    Abstract: Autonomous navigation and unknown environment exploration with an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) is extremely challenging. This report investigates a mapping and exploration solution utilizing low size, weight, power, and cost payloads. The platform presented here leverages simultaneous localization and mapping to efficiently explore unknown areas by finding navigable routes. The solution utilizes a diverse sensor payload that includes wheel encoders, 3D lidar, and red-green-blue and depth cameras. The main goal of this effort is to leverage path planning and navigation for mapping and exploration with a UGV to produce an accurate 3D map. The solution provided also leverages the Robot Operating System
  • During Nearshore Event Vegetation Gradation (DUNEVEG): Geospatial Tools for Automating Remote Vegetation Extraction

    Abstract: Monitoring and modeling of coastal vegetation and ecosystems are major challenges, especially when considering environmental response to hazards, disturbances, and management activities. Remote sensing applications can provide alternatives and complementary approaches to the often costly and laborious field-based collection methods traditionally used for coastal ecosystem monitoring. New and improved sensors and data analysis techniques have become available, making remote sensing applications attractive for evaluation and potential use in monitoring coastal vegetation properties and ecosystem conditions and changes. This study involves the extraction of vegetation metrics from airborne lidar and hyperspectral imagery (HSI) collected by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) National Coastal Mapping Program (NCMP) to quantify coastal dune vegetation characteristics. A custom geoprocessing toolbox and associated suite of tools were developed to allow inputs of common NCMP lidar and imagery products to help automate the workflow for extracting prioritized dune vegetation metrics in an efficient and repeatable way. This study advances existing coastal ecosystem knowledge and remote sensing techniques by developing new methodologies to classify, quantify, and estimate critical coastal vegetation metrics which will ultimately improve future estimates and predictions of nearshore dynamics and impacts from disturbance events.
  • 3D Mapping and Navigation Using MOVEit

    Abstract: Until recently, our focus has been primarily on the development of a low SWAP-C payload for deployment on a UGV that leverages 2D mapping and navigation. Due to these efforts, we are able to autonomously map and navigate very well within flat indoor environments. This report will explore the implementation of 3D mapping and navigation to allow unmanned vehicles to operate on a variety of terrains, both indoor and outdoor. The method we followed uses MOVEit, a motion planning framework. The MOVEit application is typically used in the control of robotic arms or manipulators, but its handling of 3D perception using OctoMaps makes it a promising software for robots in general. The challenges of using MOVEit outside of its intended use case of manipulators are discussed in this report.
  • Geomorphic Feature Extraction to Support the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative’s Sediment Budget and Geomorphic Vulnerability Index for Lake Michigan

    Purpose: This Coastal and Hydraulics Engineering technical note (CHETN) details a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) methodology to produce advanced lidar-derived datasets for use in a coastal erosion vulnerability analysis conducted by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and other federal partners for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI).
  • A 10-Year Monthly Climatology of Wind Direction: Case-Study Assessment

    Abstract: A 10-year monthly climatology of wind direction in compass degrees is developed utilizing datasets from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, Climate Forecast System. Data retrieval methodologies, numerical techniques, and scientific analysis packages to develop the climatology are explored. The report describes the transformation of input data in Gridded Binary format to the Geographic Tagged Image File Format to support geospatial analyses. The specific data sources, software tools, and data-verification techniques are outlined.
  • AIS Data: An Overview of Free Sources

    Abstract: The purpose of this Coastal and Hydraulics Engineering technical note (CHETN) is to describe the sources of Automatic Identification System (AIS) data available to the public, with a focus on federal employees who may need AIS data to carry out their official duties. AIS data, in this context, refer to both real-time and historic vessel position information.
  • Establishing a Series of Dust Event Case Studies for North Africa

    Abstract: Dust aerosols often create hazardous air quality conditions that affect human health, visibility, agriculture, and communication in various parts of the world. While substantial progress has been made in dust-event simulation and hazard mitigation over the last several decades, accurately forecasting the spatial and temporal variability of dust emissions continues to be a challenge. This report documents an analysis of atmospheric conditions for a series of dust events in North Africa. The researchers highlight four analyzed events that occurred between January 2016 to present in the following locations: (1) the western Sahara Desert; (2) East Algeria and the Iberian Peninsula; (3) Chad-Bodélé Depression; (4) Algeria and Morocco. For each event, the researchers developed an overview of the general synoptic, mesoscale, and local environmental forcing conditions that controlled the event evolution and used a combination of available lidar data, surface weather observations, upper-air soundings, aerosol optical depth, and satellite imagery to characterize the dust conditions. These assessments will support downstream forecast model evaluation and sensitivity testing; however, the researchers also encourage broader use of these assessments as reference case studies for dust transport, air quality modeling, remote sensing, soil erosion, and land management research applications.
  • The DEM Breakline and Differencing Analysis Tool—Step-by-Step Workflows and Procedures for Effective Gridded DEM Analysis

    Abstract: The DEM Breakline and Differencing Analysis Tool is the result of a multi-year research effort in the analysis of digital elevation models (DEMs) and the extraction of features associated with breaklines identified on the DEM by numerical analysis. Developed in the ENVI/IDL image processing application, the tool is designed to serve as an aid to research in the investigation of DEMs by taking advantage of local variation in the height. A set of specific workflow exercises is described as applied to a diverse set of four sample DEMs. These workflows instruct the user in applying the tool to extract and analyze features associated with terrain, vegetative canopy, and built structures. Optimal processing parameter choices, subject to user modification, are provided along with sufficient explanation to train the user in elevation model analysis through the creation of customized output overlays.
  • Cross Country Mobility (CCM) Modeling Using Triangulated Irregular Networks (TIN)

    Abstract: Cross country mobility (CCM) models terrain that has insufficient or unavailable infrastructure for crossing. This historically has been done with either hand-drawn and estimated maps or with raster-based terrain analysis, both of which have their own strengths and weaknesses. In this report the authors explore the possibility of using triangulated irregular networks (TINs) as a means of representing terrain characteristics used in CCM and discuss the possibilities of using such networks for routing capabilities in lieu of a traditional road-based network. The factors used to calculate CCM are modified from previous methods to capture a more accurate measurement of terrain characteristics. Using a TIN to store and represent CCM information achieves comparable results to raster cost analysis with the additional benefits of an integrated network useful for visualization and routing and a reduction in the number of related files. Additionally, TINs can in some cases more accurately show the contours of the landscape and reveal feature details or impediments that may be lost within a raster, thus improving the quality of CCM overlays.