Citation Gilvear D, Davids C & Tyler A (2004) The use of remotely sensed data to detect channel hydromorphology; River Tummel, Scotland. River Research and Applications, 20 (7), pp. 795-811. https://doi.org/10.1002/rra.792
Abstract Colour aerial photography and multi-spectral imagery acquired from airborne platforms for the River Tummel, Scotland, was used in conjunction with field survey to assess the feasibility of monitoring hydromorphology and human alteration within the river corridor. The study was undertaken to investigate the possibility of remotely sensing the physical status of a nation's rivers at the national scale to comply with the requirement of the European Water Framework Directive. Visual assessment and unsupervised and supervised automated classifications of the imagery were undertaken and compared with field survey data. In the absence of overhanging vegetation canopies most features above the water line of interest were visible on the imagery. Below the water line, morphology and substrate composition together with bank materials on vertically cut banks are less easily detected. The overall accuracy of automated classification procedures, compared to field survey, was 60% for the colour aerial photography and 68% for the multi-spectral imagery. Supervised classification was superior to unsupervised classification procedures. Sun glint on water surfaces and shadows caused by high banks, trees and buildings were observed as the cause of most misclassification of features. Overall, the study demonstrates that remotely sensed digital imagery has the potential to allow panoptic mapping of river hydromorphology and human impacts. The possibilities and constraints, in light of the findings of this study, are discussed. In the context of new legislation which requires environmental protection agencies to have robust tools for monitoring the physical status, as part of meeting the objective of good ecological status, of rivers across an entire nation, remote sensing appears to provide a way forward.