In this paper, coastal dune data are collected at Truc Vert, SW France, using photogrammetry via Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). A low-cost GoPro-equipped DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter and a 20 MPix camera-equipped DJI Phantom 4 Pro quadcopter UAVs were used to remotely sense the coastal dune morphology over large spatial scales (4 km alongshore, i.e., approximately 1 km2
of beach-dune system), within a short time (less than 2 h of flight). The primary objective of this paper is to propose a low-cost and replicable approach which, combined with simple and efficient permanent Ground Control Point (GCP) set-up, can be applied to routinely survey upper beach and coastal dune morphological changes at high frequency (after each storm) and high resolution (0.1 m). Results show that a high-resolution and accurate Digital Surface Model (DSM) can be inferred with both UAVs if enough permanent GCPs are implemented. The more recent DJI Phantom 4 gives substantially more accurate DSM with a root-mean-square vertical error and bias of 0.05 m and −0.03 m, respectively, while the DSM inferred from the DJI Phantom 2 still largely meets the standard for coastal monitoring. The automatic flight plan procedure allows replicable surveys to address large-scale morphological evolution at high temporal resolution (e.g., weeks, months), providing unprecedented insight into the coastal dune evolution driven by marine and aeolian processes. The detailed morphological evolution of a 4-km section of beach-dune system is analyzed over a 6-month winter period, showing highly alongshore variable beach and incipient foredune wave-driven erosion, together with wind-driven inland migration of the established foredune by a few meters, and alongshore-variable sand deposition on the grey dune. In a context of widespread erosion, this photogrammetry approach via low-cost flexible and lightweight UAVs is well adapted for coastal research groups and coastal dune management stakeholders, including in developing countries where data are lacking.
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