Thermal Imaging for Remote Sensing and Wildlife Counting

Thermal Imaging

Thermal Imaging metal is a non-contact method of temperature measurement that creates a visual picture from the thermal radiation emitted by all objects. Everything with a temperature above zero radiates infrared energy, and the amount of radiant energy is proportional to the object’s temperature. Thermography makes warm objects stand out well against cooler backgrounds and is therefore an ideal remote sensing technique for spotting people, animals, hot components and other anomalies, day or night.

Most commercial thermal cameras employ microbolometer technology that allows the user to visualize an object’s temperature by creating a color contour map of its infrared emission. This allows the operator to identify a problem before it becomes more serious.

Demystifying Thermal Imaging: How It Works and Its Practical Uses

For example, a circuit board that is overheating can be detected by its orange color in the thermal image. The imager detects the emissivity of the hot component, which is a function of its surface temperature and a characteristic of the material itself, and compares it to the theoretical radiance of a black body radiator at that same temperature (see Fig. 2-17).

Many people also use thermal imagers for wildlife counting and observation. This is most practical when the species to be counted is known in advance and is easily distinguished from other objects in the image. However, when there are multiple species present the automation of detection is complicated because each species has its own distinct signature in the imagery. In these cases it is best to use a statistically based algorithm to help with the counting process.