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Open AccessArticle

Potential of UAVs for Monitoring Mudflat Morphodynamics (Application to the Seine Estuary, France)

Domaines Océaniques - UMR 6538, Université de Bretagne Occidentale, IUEM, Technopôle Brest-Iroise, Rue Dumont D’Urville, F-29280 Plouzané, France
Ifremer - Dyneco/Physed - Centre de Bretagne, BP 70, F-29280 Plouzané, France
CEREMA - Centre d’Etudes et d’expertise sur les Risques, l’Environnement, la Mobilité et l’Aménagement, DTechEMF, F-29280 Plouzané, France
Université de Rouen, M2C, UMR 6143, CNRS, Morphodynamique Continentale et Côtière, F-76821 Mont Saint Aignan Cedex, France
Laboratoire de Géologie de Lyon - UMR 5276, Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, Campus de la Doua, 2 rue Raphaël Dubois, F-69622 Villeurbanne Cedex, France
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Gonzalo Pajares Martinsanz and Wolfgang Kainz
ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2016, 5(4), 50;
Received: 23 November 2015 / Revised: 29 March 2016 / Accepted: 8 April 2016 / Published: 13 April 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Geomatics)
PDF [4703 KB, uploaded 13 April 2016]


Intertidal mudflats play a critical role in estuarine exchange, connecting marine and continental supplies of nutrients and sediments. However, their complex morphodynamics, associated with a wide range of physical and biological processes, are still poorly understood and require further field investigation. In addition, mudflats are challenging areas for Structure-from-Motion (SfM) photogrammetric surveys. Indeed, the mudflats generally hold back residual tidal water, which can make stereo restitution particularly difficult because of poor correlations or sun-glint effects. This study aims to show the potential of light UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) for monitoring sedimentary hydrodynamics at different spatial scales in a silty estuary. For each UAV mission an orthophotograph and a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) are computed. From repeated surveys the diachronic evolution of the area can be observed via DEM differencing. Considering the ground texture in such a context, the stereo restitution process is made possible because of the high spatial resolution of the UAV photographs. Providing a synoptic view as well as high spatial resolution (less than 4 cm), the UAV dataset enables multi-scale approaches from the study of large areas to the morphodynamics of smaller-scale sedimentary structures and the morphodynamics impact of plant ground cover. View Full-Text
Keywords: coastal monitoring; Unmanned Aerial Vehicle; photogrammetry; estuary; mudflat areas; morphological features coastal monitoring; Unmanned Aerial Vehicle; photogrammetry; estuary; mudflat areas; morphological features

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Jaud, M.; Grasso, F.; Le Dantec, N.; Verney, R.; Delacourt, C.; Ammann, J.; Deloffre, J.; Grandjean, P. Potential of UAVs for Monitoring Mudflat Morphodynamics (Application to the Seine Estuary, France). ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2016, 5, 50.

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