The Riverview Project: Episode 2

Kristian Gustavson’s back with us for part two of this four-part video series documenting the Sacramento River. This week, we take a closer look at what goes into the river imaging—specifically, the collecting of scientific hydrology data to track water temperature, pH, salinity, dissolved oxygen contents—and how these indicators can be used to determine the overall health of the river. Learn more from Kristian in our interview below.

KEEN: Can you describe the technology you’re using to chart the river?

KRISTIAN: The Riverview Project uses state-of-the art imaging and data processing technology to produce panoramic images along major river ways coupled with detailed scientific sampling. BTS, in partnership with USGS, EPA, and others will use panoramic imaging as the visualization foundation, combined with LIDAR, Multi-beam SONAR, and other parameters to create the most comprehensive virtual database of America’s waterways to date. BTS recently acquired Immersive Media’s Quattro camera, which consists of four Sony ICX 724 CCD sensors. The Quattro captures a high-resolution 4400 x 1550 cylindrical field of view at 15 frames per second. We also have a spherical GoPro system, which is the most versatile and rugged set-up we have used thus far. All of these images can be stitched together and layered in any number of virtual mapping programs.

KEEN: Will these data eventually be available to the public?

KRISTIAN: Definitely! The bigger-picture vision we have for Riverview is to create a comprehensive waterway assessment and data aggregation platform. Collected observational and scientific data products will be useful to water resource managers, sustainable energy development, recreational industry, and broad outreach activities. The ultimate goal is to incorporate this data with larger initiatives, such as the USGS stream gage network, LANDSAT, Toxic Release Inventory, and others.

KEEN: What will the images be used for?

KRISTIAN: BTS seeks to enhance the scientific understanding, conservation, and public awareness of global river resources and using panoramic images as a virtual baseline. Recreational users, policy makers, conservation groups, and scientists are just a few of the groups who could use these data sets and images. We are interested in strategies that address today’s most pressing issues, such as climate change, harnessing renewable energy, water pollution, and ocean acidification.

Kristian Gustavson is a KEEN Ambassador and Founder of Below the Surface, a non-profit organization dedicated to the exploration of, and education about the issues surrounding water.