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A new perspective of storm bite on sandy beaches using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

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Aerial imagery collected before and after major storm events is ideal for the assessment of coastal landscape change driven by individual high-magnitude events. Using traditional satellite sensors and manned aerial systems can be challenging due to issues related to cloud cover, mobilization expenses and resolution. Rapid advances in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology allow for the cost-effective collection of aerial imagery and topography at centimetre resolution suitable for assessing change in coastal ecosystems. In this study we demonstrate the utility of UAV-based photogrammetry to quantify storm-driven sediment dynamics on a sandy beach on the open-coast shoreline of Victoria, Australia. UAV-based aerial photography was collected before and after a major storm event. High-resolution (< 5 cm) aerial imagery and digital surface models were acquired and change-detection techniques were applied to quantify changes in the beachface. An average beach erosion of 12.24 m3/m with a maximum of 28.05 m3/m was observed, and the volume of sand cut from the beachface and retreat of the foredune are clearly illustrated. Following the storm event, erosion was estimated at 7,259.94 ± 503.69 m3 along 550 m of beach. By combining the aerial imagery and derived topographic datasets we demonstrate the advantage of UAV-based photogrammetry techniques for rapid high-resolution data collection in semiremote locations. Its utility in setting unlimited virtual vantage points is also illustrated and the valuable perspective it provides for tracking landscape change discussed.
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Keywords: COASTAL CHANGE; COASTAL GEOMORPHOLOGY; STORM EROSION; UNMANNED AERIAL SYSTEMS (UAS); UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLE (UAV)

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2016

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  • Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie main volume is a peer-reviewed international journal presenting original contributions of high scientific standard from all fields of geomorphology, encompassing basic research and applied studies. Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie (ZfG) invites the submission of original papers from the entire field of geomorphological research, both applied and theoretical. Authors are encouraged to submit their papers to the editor-in-chief. Please peruse the instructions to authors (PDF) before submitting your paper.

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