The National Arboretum Phenomic & Environmental Sensory Array

3D model from UAV data from the National Arboretum
(UAV survey from ProUAV; Model creation Pix4D)

View the full time-lapse archives here 

Project Overview

The National Arboretum Phenomic Environmental Sensor Array (PESA) at the National Arboretum in Canberra, ACT is a “NextGen” monitoring  system enabling researchers to understand how extreme weather and climate variability affect tree growth in experimental plots as they mature from individual trees to mature forest ecosystems. It will allow us to predict drought effects on growth and development for different eucalyptus species and genotypes which has important implications for regenerating forest ecosystems under climate change nationally and globally. Initial placement of the PESA will be at the ANU Research Forest of the National Arboretum of Canberra, but the  Array design has flexible components to allow sub-sets to be relocated to other sites for comparative analyses and integration over wider geographic scales.

Read the full project proposal here

Current infrastructure

  1. A core network of five meteorological stations (March, 2015)
  2. 200-500MP Gigavision timelapse cameras for imaging the research site at 1-cm/pixel resolutions : 1 Camera on the hill (some output here); 2nd camera to be installed in March, 2015 at the Forest Site.
  3. Wireless mesh-based microclimate environmental sensor network (20 locations) providing air temperature, humidity, light intensity, soil temperature and moisture at two depths. Installed
  4. Real-time tree diameter sensor network (20 trees) measuring diurnal variation and seasonal growth at millimeter scales. PESA will provide visual and physical resolution from individual trees to whole forests (m2 to 10’s of ha) every minute and hour for decades (March 2015)
  5. Ultra high resolution 3D LIDAR (Echidna and Zebedee) scans of the forest. Initial scans complete
  6. Time-series UAV sampling in collaboration with Darrell Burkey of ProUAV. These images will be processed with Pix4D software to provide a centimeter resolution time-lapse 3D model of the field site from the top down.
    1. For Example:

Web-based data visualization software will tie the project together providing a virtual user interface for advanced integrative research linking forest tree genotype, environment and phenotype. PESA provides a critical landscape level field trial data to complement ongoing studies ranging in scale from the greenhouse to space-borne sensors (e.g. Landsat) and regional Flux tower sites.


Data Access

Data status: The 20-node mesh sensor network and dendrometer network are live. The phenocam is installed on the hill site along with the Gigavision time-lapse camera. Links to datasets are below. Live interactive data coming soon. See Site Map for tree sensor locations and tree height data.

  • Live TimeLapse
  • Dendrometer Data
    • 20-nodes measuring micrometer resolution tree growth (10-minute intervals)
  • Mesh Sensor Network
    • 20-nodes measuring temperature, humidity and PAR  and below-ground temperature and moisture (10 minute intervals)
  • UAV 3D data
    • We have used UAV data to create:
      • 3D models of the research site
      • Calculate GPS coordinates, height and area of every tree on the site (see layer on Google Map)
      • Pending permitting issues, we will be flying at least monthly UAV flights to generate time-series 3D models of the arboretum



Environmental Sensing in the ACT Workshop. Feb 13, 2015


Gigapixel panoramas

Panorama of the National Arboretum (click the image so see more panoramas)

Panoramas from the Hill Site gigavision camera

Map of the research site with tree heights and sensor locations