Oregon State University

Bright Air


Thermal Image of Watershed 1 at HJ Andrews showing the nocturnal temperature gradient

The Biomicrometeorology (BMM) group has been studying the nocturnal boundary layer dynamics of mountain valleys. One area of particular interest is the dynamics of cold air pools. Cold air pools, or inversions, are of interest for many reasons. One of the most well known is that these layers can trap contaminants/pollutants. In urban environments this can lead to health hazards for large populations. In rural environments, such as forested portions of mountainous regions, a better understanding of the dynamics of cold air pools can lead to better estimates of surface fluxes (e.g. carbon, momentum, heat, etc..) that in turn can lead to improved large scale models of weather and climate.

In this study a thermal IR camera is used to remotely sense the foliage temperature in a mountain valley. On clear windy nights one can assume that the foliage temperature is a proxy for the air temperature at a given location. Based on this assumption it is possible to map some of the dynamics of the atmosphere in the valley. Filtering and processing the raw imagery will be challenging. The camera will sense all the radiative flux in its field of view. However, not all of the flux sensed will have originated from the object of interest which, in this case, is the forest canopy. All flux not originating from the forest canopy must be filtered out. Once the image has been filtered it must be georeferenced and orthorectified before useful analyses can be performed.  After geoprocessing is complete, the BMM group will have a georeferenced time series of the temperature gradient for an entire forested mountain valley. 

For more thermal imagery and videos relating to this project, take a look at our Bright Air Channel on YouTube.



Christoph Thomas (PI)

Chris Johnson

Contact Info

Oregon State University
College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences
130 Burt Hall
Corvallis, OR,
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