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Lidar-based mapping of flood control levees in South Louisiana

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Flood protection in south Louisiana is largely dependent on earthen levees, and in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina the state’s levee system has received intense scrutiny. Accurate elevation data along the levees are critical to local levee district managers responsible for monitoring and maintaining the extensive system of non-federal levees in coastal Louisiana. In 2012, high resolution airborne lidar data were acquired over levees in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana, and a mobile terrestrial lidar survey was conducted for selected levee segments using a terrestrial lidar scanner mounted on a truck. The mobile terrestrial lidar data were collected to test the feasibility of using this relatively new technology to map flood control levees and to compare the accuracy of the terrestrial and airborne lidar. Metrics assessing levee geometry derived from the two lidar surveys are also presented as an efficient, comprehensive method to quantify levee height and stability. The vertical root mean square error values of the terrestrial lidar and airborne lidar digital-derived digital terrain models were 0.038 m and 0.055 m, respectively. The comparison of levee metrics derived from the airborne and terrestrial lidar-based digital terrain models showed that both types of lidar yielded similar results, indicating that either or both surveying techniques could be used to monitor geomorphic change over time. Because airborne lidar is costly, many parts of the USA and other countries have never been mapped with airborne lidar, and repeat surveys are often not available for change detection studies. Terrestrial lidar provides a practical option for conducting repeat surveys of levees and other terrain features that cover a relatively small area, such as eroding cliffs or stream banks, and dunes.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: U.S. Geological Survey Eastern Geographic Science Center, Reston, VA, USA 2: School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of New South Wales, UNSW Sydney, Sydney, Australia 3: U.S. Geological Survey, EROS Center, Sioux Falls, SD, USA 4: U.S. Geological Survey Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center, Montgomery, AL, USA

Publication date: December 16, 2016

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