Previous research has documented the usefulness of Lidar data to derive a variety of topographic products (e.g., DEM, DTM, canopy and forest structure, and urban infrastructure). Lidar has been used to map coastal environments and geomorphology; however, there is no comprehensive model to derive coastal geomorphology. Therefore, the purpose of this project was to build on existing research and develop an automated modeling approach to classify coastal geomorphology across barrier islands. The model was developed and tested at four sites in North Carolina including two undeveloped and two developed islands. Barrier island geomorphology is shaped by natural coastal processes, such as storms and longshore sediment transport, as well as human influences, such as beach nourishment and urban development. The model was developed to classify ten geomorphic features over four time-steps from 1998 to 2014. Model results were compared to compute change through time and derived the rate and direction of feature movement. Tropical storms and hurricanes had the most influence in geomorphic change and movement. On the developed islands, there was less influence of storms due to the inability of features to move because of coastal infrastructure. From 2005 to 2010, beach nourishment was the dominant influence on developed beaches because this activity ameliorated the natural tendency for an island to erode. Understanding how natural and anthropogenic processes influence barrier island geomorphology is critical to predicting an island’s future response to changing environmental factors such as sea-level rise. The development of an automated model enables it to be replicated in other locations where policy makers and coastal managers may use this information to make development and conservation decisions.
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