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Special Issue "UAV Application for Monitoring Coastal Morphology"

A special issue of Remote Sensing (ISSN 2072-4292). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Remote Sensing".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2021) | Viewed by 23405

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Paolo Ciavola
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Physics and Earth Science, University of Ferrara, Via Saragat 1, 44122 Ferrara, Italy
Interests: coastal morphodynamics; coastal risk
Dr. Edoardo Grottoli
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Geography & Environmental Sciences, Ulster University, Cromore Road, Coleraine BT52 1SA, UK
Interests: coastal morphodynamics; sediment transport

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are cost-effective tools already applied in several environmental research fields. Due to the recently improved resolution and accuracy of derived images and equipped sensors, UAVs are supporting or, in some cases, replacing traditional topographic instruments (i.e., DGPS, Laser Scanner, etc.) especially in studies of coastal settings which aim to detect morphological change and sediment dynamics. The rapid and efficient application of UAVs also represents a rapid tool for assessing flooding extents or storm impacts affecting coastal communities in the context of rising sea levels and climate change. UAV-derived datasets can also be used in implementing historical information regarding shoreline evolution, dune conservation or sediment circulation among different space–time scales.

This Special Issue aims at collecting new insights and benefits deriving from the use of UAVs in studies focusing on coastal geomorphology. Recent advancements in the methodologies, techniques, data processing, and future developments of UAV systems are also welcome, as well as studies including, but not limited to, the following aspects:

  • Tracking of coastal sediment and/or sediment dynamics by means of UAVs;
  • Detection of hotspots of erosion (or accretion) induced by storms or by regular coastal hydrodynamics;
  • Integration of UAV datasets with historical imagery gathered from traditional sources and used for shoreline or long-term studies of coastal evolution;
  • The use of UAVs in investigating dune morphology and volume variations in the beach system;
  • UAVs applied as a rapid tool to assess the impact of storms or flooding extents in coastal areas at risk;
  • UAV application for hydrodynamic measurements in coastal systems;
  • UAV as tool for monitoring the evolution of nourishment projects or ecosystem-based approaches for coastal defense;
  • Geomorphic change of rocky coasts (e.g. cliffs) based on UAV data;
  • UAV monitoring of high latitude coastlines;
  • Any kind of UAV application related to coastal morphodynamics studies.

Prof. Paolo Ciavola
Dr. Edoardo Grottoli
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Remote Sensing is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • UAV
  • Coastal geomorphology
  • Storm impact
  • Sediment transport
  • Coastal risk
  • Coastal vulnerability
  • Coastal erosion
  • Rapid environmental assessment (REA)

Published Papers (16 papers)

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Article
Evaluating Short-Term Tidal Flat Evolution Through UAV Surveys: A Case Study in the Po Delta (Italy)
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(12), 2322; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13122322 - 13 Jun 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1061
Abstract
The use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) on wetlands is becoming a common survey technique that is extremely useful for understanding tidal flats and salt marshes. However, its implementation is not straightforward because of the complexity of the environment and fieldwork conditions. This [...] Read more.
The use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) on wetlands is becoming a common survey technique that is extremely useful for understanding tidal flats and salt marshes. However, its implementation is not straightforward because of the complexity of the environment and fieldwork conditions. This paper presents the morphological evolution of the Po della Pila tidal flat in the municipality of Porto Tolle (Italy) and discusses the reliability of UAV-derived Digital Surface Models (DSMs) for such environments. Four UAV surveys were performed between October 2018 and February 2020 on an 8 ha young tidal flat that was generated, amongst others, as a consequence of the massive sediment injection into the Po Delta system due to the floods of the 1950s and 1960s. The DSM accuracy was tested by processing (i.e., photogrammetry) diverse sets of pictures taken at different altitudes during the same survey day. The DSMs and the orthophotos show that the tidal flat is characterised by several crevasse splays and that the sediment provision depends strictly on the river. During the study period, the sediment budget was positive (gaining 800 m3/year and an average rate of vertical changes of 1.3 cm/year). Comparisons of DSMs demonstrated that neither lower flight altitudes (i.e., 20–100 m) nor the combination of more photos from different flights during the same surveys necessarily reduce the error in such environments. However, centimetric errors (i.e., RMSEs) are achievable flying at 80–100 m, as the increase of GCP (Ground Control Point) density is the most effective solution for enhancing the resolution. Guidelines are suggested for implementing high-quality UAV surveys in wetlands. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue UAV Application for Monitoring Coastal Morphology)
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Article
Using High-Spatial Resolution UAV-Derived Data to Evaluate Vegetation and Geomorphological Changes on a Dune Field Involved in a Restoration Endeavour
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(10), 1987; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13101987 - 19 May 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 916
Abstract
Nowadays, the employment of high-resolution Digital Surface Models (DSMs) and RGB orthophotos has become fundamental in coastal system studies. This work aims to explore the potentiality of low-cost Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) surveys to monitor the geomorphic and vegetation state of coastal sand [...] Read more.
Nowadays, the employment of high-resolution Digital Surface Models (DSMs) and RGB orthophotos has become fundamental in coastal system studies. This work aims to explore the potentiality of low-cost Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) surveys to monitor the geomorphic and vegetation state of coastal sand dunes by means of high-resolution (2–4 cm) RGB orthophotos and DSMs. The area of study (Punta Marina, Ravenna, Italy), in the North Adriatic Sea, was considered very suitable for these purposes because it involves a residual coastal dune system, damaged by decades of erosion, fragmentation and human intervention. Recently, part of the dune system has been involved in a restoration project aimed at limiting its deterioration. RGB orthophotos have been used to calculate the spectral information of vegetation and bare sand and therefore, to monitor changes in their relative cover area extension over time, through the using of semi-automatic classification algorithms in a GIS environment. Elevation data from high-resolution DSMs were used to identify the principal morphological features: (i) Dune Foot Line (DFL); (ii) Dune Crest Line (DCL); Dune seaward Crest Line (DsCL); Stable Vegetation line (SVL). The USGS tool DSAS was used to monitor dune dynamics, considering every source of error: a stable pattern was observed for the two crest lines (DCL and DsCL), and an advancing one for the others two features (DFL and SVL). Geomorphological data, as well as RGB data, confirmed the effectiveness of planting operations, since a constant and progressive increase of the vegetated cover area and consolidation of the dune system was observed, in a period with no energetic storms. The proposed methodology is rapid, low-cost and easily replicable by coastal managers to quantify the effectiveness of restoration projects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue UAV Application for Monitoring Coastal Morphology)
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Article
Uncertainty of Drone-Derived DEMs and Significance of Detected Morphodynamics in Artificially Scraped Dunes
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(9), 1823; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13091823 - 07 May 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1008
Abstract
This work capitalises on the morphodynamic study of a scraped artificial dune built on the sandy beach of Porto Garibaldi (Comacchio, Italy) as a barrier to protect the touristic facilities from sea storms during the winter season and contributes to understanding of the [...] Read more.
This work capitalises on the morphodynamic study of a scraped artificial dune built on the sandy beach of Porto Garibaldi (Comacchio, Italy) as a barrier to protect the touristic facilities from sea storms during the winter season and contributes to understanding of the role of elevation data uncertainty and uniform thresholds for change detection (TCDs) on the interpretation of volume change estimations. This application relies on products derived from unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) surveys and on the evaluation of the uncertainty associated with volume change estimations to interpret the case study morphodynamics under non-extreme sea and wind conditions. The analysis was performed by comparing UAV-derived digital elevation models (DEMs)—root mean squared error (RMSE) vs. global navigation satellite system (GNSS) < 0.05 m—and orthophotos, considering the significance of the identified changes by applying a set of TCDs. In this case, a threshold of ~0.15 m was able to detect most of the morphological variations. The set of TCD ≤ 0.15 m was considered to discuss the significance of minor changes and the uncertainty of volume change calculations. During the analysed period (21 December 2016–20 January 2017), water levels and waves affected the front of the artificial dune by eroding the berm area; winds remodelled the entire dune, moving the loose sand around the dune and further inland; sediment volumes mobilised by sea and wind forcing were comparable. This work suggests that UAV-derived coastal morphological variations should be interpreted by integrating: (i) a set of uniform thresholds to detect significant changes; (ii) the uncertainty generated by the propagation of the original uncertainty of the elevation products; (iii) the characteristics of the morphodynamic drivers evaluated by adopting uncertainty-aware approaches. Thus, the contribution of subtle morphological changes—magnitudes comparable with the instrumental accuracy and/or the assessed propagated uncertainty—can be properly accounted for. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue UAV Application for Monitoring Coastal Morphology)
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Article
Morphodynamic Controls for Growth and Evolution of a Rubble Coral Island
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(8), 1582; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13081582 - 19 Apr 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1151
Abstract
Rubble islands are dynamic sedimentary features present on reef platforms that evolve under a variety of morphodynamic processes and controlling mechanisms. They provide valuable inhabitable land for small island nations, critical habitat for numerous species, and are threatened by climate change. Aiming to [...] Read more.
Rubble islands are dynamic sedimentary features present on reef platforms that evolve under a variety of morphodynamic processes and controlling mechanisms. They provide valuable inhabitable land for small island nations, critical habitat for numerous species, and are threatened by climate change. Aiming to investigate the controlling mechanisms dictating the evolution of One Tree Island (OTI), a rubble island in the Southern Great Barrier Reef, we combined different remotely-sensed data across varying timescales with wave data extracted from satellite altimetry and cyclone activity. Our findings show that (1) OTI had expanded by 7% between 1978 and 2019, (2) significant gross planform decadal adjustments were governed by the amount, intensity, proximity, and relative position of cyclones as well as El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phases, and (3) the mechanisms of island growth involve rubble spits delivering and redistributing rubble to the island through alongshore sediment transport and wave overtopping. Frequent short-term monitoring of the island and further research coupling variations in the different factors driving island change (i.e., sediment availability, reef-wave interactions, and extreme events) are needed to shed light on the future trajectory of OTI and other rubble islands under a climate change scenario. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue UAV Application for Monitoring Coastal Morphology)
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Article
UAS Identify and Monitor Unusual Small-Scale Rhythmic Features in the Bay of Cádiz (Spain)
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(6), 1188; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13061188 - 20 Mar 2021
Viewed by 828
Abstract
Unusual shore-normal and barred-like rhythmic features were found in Camposoto Beach (Bay of Cádiz, SW Spain) during a monitoring program using unmanned aerial systems (UAS). They appeared in the backshore and persisted for 6 months (October 2017–March 2018). Their characteristics and possible formation [...] Read more.
Unusual shore-normal and barred-like rhythmic features were found in Camposoto Beach (Bay of Cádiz, SW Spain) during a monitoring program using unmanned aerial systems (UAS). They appeared in the backshore and persisted for 6 months (October 2017–March 2018). Their characteristics and possible formation mechanism were investigated analyzing: (1) UAS-derived high-resolution digital elevation models (DEMs), (2) hydrodynamic conditions, and (3) sediment samples. The results revealed that the features did not migrate spatially, that their wavelength was well predicted by the edge wave theory, and that they shared characteristics with both small-scale low-energy finger bars (e.g., geometry/appearance and amplitude) and swash cusps (e.g., wavelength, seaward circulation pattern, and finer and better sorted material in the runnels with respect to the crests). Our findings pinpoint to highly organized swash able to reach the backshore during spring tides under low-energy and accretionary conditions as well as backwash enhanced by conditions of water-saturated sediment. This study demonstrates that rhythmic features can appear under different modalities and beach locations than the ones observed up to date, and that their unusual nature may be attributed to the low spatiotemporal resolution of the traditional coastal surveying methods in comparison with novel technologies such as UAS. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue UAV Application for Monitoring Coastal Morphology)
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Article
The Spatio-Temporal Variability of Frost Blisters in a Perennial Frozen Lake along the Antarctic Coast as Indicator of the Groundwater Supply
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(3), 435; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13030435 - 27 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 796
Abstract
Remote sensing, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in particular, can be a valid tool for assessing the dynamics of cryotic features as frost blisters and to monitor the surface changes and the sublimation rates on perennially frozen lakes that host important ecosystems. In [...] Read more.
Remote sensing, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in particular, can be a valid tool for assessing the dynamics of cryotic features as frost blisters and to monitor the surface changes and the sublimation rates on perennially frozen lakes that host important ecosystems. In this paper, through the use of these remote sensing techniques, we aim to understand the type of groundwater supply of an Antarctic perennial frozen lake that encompasses two frost blisters (M1 and M2) through the temporal analysis of the features’ elevation changes (frost blisters and lake ice level). The frozen lake is located at Boulder Clay (northern Victoria Land, Antarctica). We relied on several photogrammetric models, past satellite images and ground pictures to conduct differencing of digital elevation models, areal variations and pixel counting. In addition, in situ measurements of the ice sublimation or snow accumulation were carried out. The two frost blisters showed different elevation trends with M1 higher in the past (1996–2004) than recently (2014–2019), while M2 showed an opposite trend, similarly to the ice level. Indeed, the linear regression between M2 elevation changes and the ice level variation was statistically significant, as well as with the annual thawing degree days, while M1 did not show significant results. From these results we can infer that the groundwater supply of M1 can be related to a sublake open talik (hydraulic system) as confirmed also by pressurized brines found below M1, during a drilling in summer 2019. For M2 the groundwater flow is still not completely clear although the hydrostatic system seems the easiest explanation as well as for the uplift of the lake ice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue UAV Application for Monitoring Coastal Morphology)
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Article
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Depth Inversion to Monitor River-Mouth Bar Dynamics
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(3), 412; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13030412 - 25 Jan 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1206
Abstract
Monitoring the morphological evolution of a river-mouth bar is of both practical and scientific importance. A large amount of sediment is transported from a river to surrounding littoral cells via a deltaic bar after an extreme weather event. However, it is often not [...] Read more.
Monitoring the morphological evolution of a river-mouth bar is of both practical and scientific importance. A large amount of sediment is transported from a river to surrounding littoral cells via a deltaic bar after an extreme weather event. However, it is often not feasible to capture drastic morphological changes in the short term with conventional bathymetric surveys. This paper presents a depth-inversion method based on unmanned aerial vehicle technology to estimate two-dimensional bathymetry from video-sensed swell propagation. The estimation algorithm is tested over four cases with varying wave and bathymetric conditions and is validated with transect survey data. The test results suggest that the method can estimate deltaic-bar topography in front of a river mouth with a root-mean-square error of <0.5 m. The applicable range is limited by wave breaking in the inner bar and up to a depth of ~8 m, where swell intensity signals become ambiguous. A comparison of the different cases shows that the method works better under calm weather conditions with dominant swells propagating from non-local sources. Significant morphological changes of a river-mouth bar due to a powerful typhoon are successfully detected by observations right before and after the event. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue UAV Application for Monitoring Coastal Morphology)
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Article
Assessing Geomorphic Change in Restored Coastal Dune Ecosystems Using a Multi-Platform Aerial Approach
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(3), 354; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13030354 - 20 Jan 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1654
Abstract
Uncrewed aerial systems (UAS) provide an effective method to examine geomorphic and vegetation change in restored coastal dune ecosystems. Coupling structure-from-motion (SfM) photogrammetry with RGB orthomosaic imagery allows researchers to characterize spatial-temporal geomorphic responses associated with differences in vegetation cover. Such approaches provide [...] Read more.
Uncrewed aerial systems (UAS) provide an effective method to examine geomorphic and vegetation change in restored coastal dune ecosystems. Coupling structure-from-motion (SfM) photogrammetry with RGB orthomosaic imagery allows researchers to characterize spatial-temporal geomorphic responses associated with differences in vegetation cover. Such approaches provide quantitative data on landscape morphodynamics and sediment erosion and deposition responses that allow scientists and land managers to assess the efficacy of dynamic restoration efforts and, in turn, make informed decisions for future restoration projects. Two different restored coastal foredune sites in Humboldt County, California were monitored between 2016–20 with UAS (quadcopter and fixed-wing), kite aerial photogrammetry (KAP), and terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) platforms. We compared our KAP- and UAS-SfM elevation models to concurrently collected TLS bare earth models for five of our fifteen collections. The goal of this study was to inform on the potential of a multi-platform aerial approach for calculating geomorphic differences (i.e., topographic differencing), in order to quantify sediment erosion and deposition, and vegetation change over a coastal dune ecosystem. While UAS-SfM datasets were relatively well fit to their TLS counterparts (2.1–12.2% area of difference), the KAP-SfM surfaces exhibited higher deviations (23.6–27.6%) and suffered from systematic collection inconsistencies related to methods and susceptibility to external factors (e.g., the influence of wind speed and direction on variable altitude, image overlap, and coverage extent). Finally, we provide commentary on the logistical considerations regarding KAP and UAS data collection and the construction of uncertainty budgets for geomorphic change detection (GCD), while providing suggestions for standardizing methods for uncertainty budgeting. While we propose an approach that incorporates multiple levels of collection- and processing-based uncertainty, we also recognize that uncertainty is often project-specific and outline the development of potential standards for incorporating uncertainty budgets in SfM projects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue UAV Application for Monitoring Coastal Morphology)
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Article
The Influence of Camera Calibration on Nearshore Bathymetry Estimation from UAV Videos
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(1), 150; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13010150 - 05 Jan 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1508
Abstract
Measuring the nearshore bathymetry is critical in coastal management and morphodynamic studies. The recent advent of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), in combination with coastal video monitoring techniques, allows for an alternative and low cost evaluation of the nearshore bathymetry. Camera calibration and stabilization [...] Read more.
Measuring the nearshore bathymetry is critical in coastal management and morphodynamic studies. The recent advent of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), in combination with coastal video monitoring techniques, allows for an alternative and low cost evaluation of the nearshore bathymetry. Camera calibration and stabilization is a critical issue in bathymetry estimation from video systems. This work introduces a new methodology in order to obtain such bathymetries, and it compares the results to echo-sounder ground truth data. The goal is to gain a better understanding on the influence of the camera calibration and stabilization on the inferred bathymetry. The results show how the proposed methodology allows for accurate evaluations of the bathymetry, with overall root mean square errors in the order of 40 cm. It is shown that the intrinsic calibration of the camera, related to the lens distortion, is the most critical aspect. Here, the intrinsic calibration that was obtained directly during the flight yields the best results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue UAV Application for Monitoring Coastal Morphology)
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Article
Structure-from-Motion-Derived Digital Surface Models from Historical Aerial Photographs: A New 3D Application for Coastal Dune Monitoring
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(1), 95; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13010095 - 30 Dec 2020
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1704
Abstract
Recent advances in structure-from-motion (SfM) techniques have proliferated the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the monitoring of coastal landform changes, particularly when applied in the reconstruction of 3D surface models from historical aerial photographs. Here, we explore a number of depth [...] Read more.
Recent advances in structure-from-motion (SfM) techniques have proliferated the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the monitoring of coastal landform changes, particularly when applied in the reconstruction of 3D surface models from historical aerial photographs. Here, we explore a number of depth map filtering and point cloud cleaning methods using the commercial software Agisoft Metashape Pro to determine the optimal methodology to build reliable digital surface models (DSMs). Twelve different aerial photography-derived DSMs are validated and compared against light detection and ranging (LiDAR)- and UAV-derived DSMs of a vegetated coastal dune system that has undergone several decades of coastline retreat. The different studied methods showed an average vertical error (root mean square error, RMSE) of approximately 1 m, with the best method resulting in an error value of 0.93 m. In our case, the best method resulted from the removal of confidence values in the range of 0–3 from the dense point cloud (DPC), with no filter applied to the depth maps. Differences among the methods examined were associated with the reconstruction of the dune slipface. The application of the modern SfM methodology to the analysis of historical aerial (vertical) photography is a novel (and reliable) new approach that can be used to better quantify coastal dune volume changes. DSMs derived from suitable historical aerial photographs, therefore, represent dependable sources of 3D data that can be used to better analyse long-term geomorphic changes in coastal dune areas that have undergone retreat. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue UAV Application for Monitoring Coastal Morphology)
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Article
The Influence of Shadow Effects on the Spectral Characteristics of Glacial Meltwater
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(1), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13010036 - 24 Dec 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1258
Abstract
The phenomenon of shadows due to glaciers is investigated in Antarctica. The observed shadow effect disrupts analyses conducted by remote sensing and is a challenge in the assessment of sediment meltwater plumes in polar marine environments. A DJI Inspire 2 drone equipped with [...] Read more.
The phenomenon of shadows due to glaciers is investigated in Antarctica. The observed shadow effect disrupts analyses conducted by remote sensing and is a challenge in the assessment of sediment meltwater plumes in polar marine environments. A DJI Inspire 2 drone equipped with a Zenmuse x5s camera was used to generate a digital surface model (DSM) of 6 King George Island glaciers: Ecology, Dera, Zalewski, Ladies, Krak, and Vieville. On this basis, shaded areas of coves near glaciers were traced. For the first time, spectral characteristics of shaded meltwater were observed with the simultaneous use of a Sequoia+ spectral camera mounted on a Parrot Bluegrass drone and in Landsat 8 satellite images. In total, 44 drone flights were made, and 399 satellite images were analyzed. Among them, four drone spectral images and four satellite images were selected, meeting the condition of a visible shadow. For homogeneous waters (deep, low turbidity, without ice phenomena), the spectral properties tend to change during the approach to an obstacle casting a shadow especially during low shortwave downward radiation. In this case, in the shade, the amount of radiation reflected in the green spectral band decreases by 50% far from the obstacle and by 43% near the obstacle, while in near infrared (NIR), it decreases by 42% and 21%, respectively. With highly turbid, shallow water and ice phenomena, this tendency does not occur. It was found that the green spectral band had the highest contrast in the amount of reflected radiation between nonshaded and shaded areas, but due to its high sensitivity, the analysis could have been overestimated. The spectral properties of shaded meltwater differ depending on the distance from the glacier front, which is related to the saturation of the water with sediment particles. We discovered that the pixel aggregation of uniform areas caused the loss of detailed information, while pixel aggregation of nonuniform, shallow areas with ice phenomena caused changes and the loss of original information. During the aggregation of the original pixel resolution (15 cm) up to 30 m, the smallest error occurred in the area with a homogeneous water surface, while the greatest error (over 100%) was identified in the places where the water was strongly cloudy or there were ice phenomena. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue UAV Application for Monitoring Coastal Morphology)
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Article
The Use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to Determine Differences in Vegetation Cover: A Tool for Monitoring Coastal Wetland Restoration Schemes
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(24), 4022; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12244022 - 09 Dec 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1542
Abstract
Managed realignment (MR) sites are being implemented to compensate for the loss of natural saltmarsh habitat due to sea level rise and anthropogenic pressures. However, MR sites have been recognised to have lower morphological variability and coverage of saltmarsh vegetation than natural saltmarsh [...] Read more.
Managed realignment (MR) sites are being implemented to compensate for the loss of natural saltmarsh habitat due to sea level rise and anthropogenic pressures. However, MR sites have been recognised to have lower morphological variability and coverage of saltmarsh vegetation than natural saltmarsh sites, which have been linked with the legacy of the historic (terrestrial) land use. This study assesses the relationship between the morphology and vegetation coverage in three separate zones, associated with the legacy of historic reclamation, of a non-engineered MR site. The site was selected due to the phased historical reclamation, and because no pre-breaching landscaping or engineering works were carried out prior to the more recent and contemporary breaching of the site. Four vegetation indices (Excess Green Index, Green Chromatic Coordinate, Green-Red Vegetation Index, and Visible Atmospherically Resistant Index) were calculated from unmanned aerial vehicle imagery; elevation, slope, and curvature surface models were calculated from a digital surface model (DSM) generated from the same imagery captured at the MR site. The imagery and DSM summarised the three zones present within the MR site and the adjacent external natural marsh, and were used to examine the site for areas of differing vegetation cover. Results indicated statistically significant differences between the vegetation indices across the three zones. Statistically significant differences in the vegetation indices were also found between the three zones and the external natural saltmarsh. However, it was only in the zone nearest the breach, and for three of the four indices, that a moderate to strong correlation was found between elevation and the vegetation indices (r = 0.53 to 0.70). This zone was also the lowest in elevation and exhibited the lowest average value for all indices. No relationship was found between the vegetation indices and either the slope or curvature in any of the zones. The approach outlined in this paper provides coastal managers with a relatively low-cost, low-field time method of assessing the areas of vegetation development in MR sites. Moreover, the findings indicate the potential importance of considering the historic morphological and sedimentological changes in the MR sites. By combining data on the areas of saltmarsh colonisation with a consideration of the site’s morphological and reclamation history, the areas likely to support saltmarsh vegetation can be remotely identified in the design of larger engineered MR sites maximising the compensation for the loss of saltmarsh habitat elsewhere. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue UAV Application for Monitoring Coastal Morphology)
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Article
UAV-Derived Multispectral Bathymetry
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(23), 3897; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12233897 - 27 Nov 2020
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 1833
Abstract
Bathymetry is considered an important component in marine applications as several coastal erosion monitoring and engineering projects are carried out in this field. It is traditionally acquired via shipboard echo sounding, but nowadays, multispectral satellite imagery is also commonly applied using different remote [...] Read more.
Bathymetry is considered an important component in marine applications as several coastal erosion monitoring and engineering projects are carried out in this field. It is traditionally acquired via shipboard echo sounding, but nowadays, multispectral satellite imagery is also commonly applied using different remote sensing-based algorithms. Satellite-Derived Bathymetry (SDB) relates the surface reflectance of shallow coastal waters to the depth of the water column. The present study shows the results of the application of Stumpf and Lyzenga algorithms to derive the bathymetry for a small area using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), also known as a drone, equipped with a multispectral camera acquiring images in the same WorldView-2 satellite sensor spectral bands. A hydrographic Multibeam Echosounder survey was performed in the same period in order to validate the method’s results and accuracy. The study area was approximately 0.5 km2 and located in Tuscany (Italy). Because of the high percentage of water in the images, a new methodology was also implemented for producing a georeferenced orthophoto mosaic. UAV multispectral images were processed to retrieve bathymetric data for testing different band combinations and evaluating the accuracy as a function of the density and quantity of sea bottom control points. Our results indicate that UAV-Derived Bathymetry (UDB) permits an accuracy of about 20 cm to be obtained in bathymetric mapping in shallow waters, minimizing operative expenses and giving the possibility to program a coastal monitoring surveying activity. The full sea bottom coverage obtained using this methodology permits detailed Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) comparable to a Multibeam Echosounder survey, and can also be applied in very shallow waters, where the traditional hydrographic approach requires hard fieldwork and presents operational limits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue UAV Application for Monitoring Coastal Morphology)
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Article
Spatial Variation in Coastal Dune Evolution in a High Tidal Range Environment
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(22), 3689; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12223689 - 10 Nov 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1326
Abstract
Coastal dunes have global importance as ecological habitats, recreational areas, and vital natural coastal protection. Dunes evolve due to variations in the supply and removal of sediment via both wind and waves, and on stabilization through vegetation colonization and growth. One aspect of [...] Read more.
Coastal dunes have global importance as ecological habitats, recreational areas, and vital natural coastal protection. Dunes evolve due to variations in the supply and removal of sediment via both wind and waves, and on stabilization through vegetation colonization and growth. One aspect of dune evolution that is poorly understood is the longshore variation in dune response to morphodynamic forcing, which can occur over small spatial scales. In this paper, a fixed wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), is used to measure the longshore variation in evolution of a dune system in a megatidal environment. Dune sections to the east and west of the study site are prograding whereas the central portion is static or eroding. The measured variation in dune response is compared to mesoscale intertidal bar migration and short-term measurements of longshore variation in wave characteristics during two storms. Intertidal sand bar migration is measured using satellite imagery: crescentic intertidal bars are present in front of the accreting portion of the beach to the west and migrate onshore at a rate of 0.1–0.2 m/day; episodically the eastern end of the bar detaches from the main bar and migrates eastward to attach near the eastern end of the study area; bypassing the central eroding section. Statistically significant longshore variation in intertidal wave heights were measured using beachface mounted pressure transducers: the largest significant wave heights are found in front of the dune section suffering erosion. Spectral differences were noted with more narrow-banded spectra in this area but differences are not statistically significant. These observations demonstrate the importance of three-dimensionality in intertidal beach morphology on longshore variation in dune evolution; both through longshore variation in onshore sediment supply and through causing longshore variation in near-dune significant wave heights. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue UAV Application for Monitoring Coastal Morphology)
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Article
Advantages of Using UAV Digital Photogrammetry in the Study of Slow-Moving Coastal Landslides
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(21), 3566; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12213566 - 30 Oct 2020
Cited by 22 | Viewed by 1950
Abstract
The aim of this study is to demonstrate the advantages of using micro drones in the study of large slow-moving landslides, which are widespread along the northwestern coast of Malta. In particular, attention was given to the inventory and analysis of gravity-induced joints [...] Read more.
The aim of this study is to demonstrate the advantages of using micro drones in the study of large slow-moving landslides, which are widespread along the northwestern coast of Malta. In particular, attention was given to the inventory and analysis of gravity-induced joints and megaclast deposits at four study sites selected due to the presence of remarkable examples of lateral spreads evolving into block slides. The research was carried out by means of Google Earth (GE) image analysis and uncrewed aerial vehicle digital photogrammetry (UAV-DP). UAV-DP outputs enabled the identification and characterization of tens of persistent joints (locally exceeding 150 m) and permitted the size categorization of thousands of blocks. With reference to gravity-induced joints, a favorable agreement was found between existing datasets (mainly based on the integration of GE analysis and field survey) and UAV-DP outputs in terms of the identification of joints and their persistence. Conversely, the use of the UAV-DP technique showed significant advantages in terms of joint aperture determination (even exceeding 1 m) and distribution setting. Regarding the extensive megaclast deposits, UAV-DP enabled the identification of 8943 individuals which, compared with the 5059 individuals identified by GE analysis, showed an increase in the total population of 76%. This is related to the high accuracy of DP-derived orthomosaics and 3D models, which are particularly useful for identifying detached blocks. The inexpensive technique used in this research highlights its potential for being extended to other rocky coastal areas affected by slow-moving landslides. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue UAV Application for Monitoring Coastal Morphology)
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Technical Note
Analysis of UAS Flight Altitude and Ground Control Point Parameters on DEM Accuracy along a Complex, Developed Coastline
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(14), 2305; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12142305 - 17 Jul 2020
Cited by 20 | Viewed by 1662
Abstract
Measuring beach topography accurately and with high spatial resolution is an important aspect of coastal management and is crucial for understanding changes in beach morphology, especially along complex, three-dimensional shorelines. Traditional methods of beach surveying even at high resolution are insufficient to measure [...] Read more.
Measuring beach topography accurately and with high spatial resolution is an important aspect of coastal management and is crucial for understanding changes in beach morphology, especially along complex, three-dimensional shorelines. Traditional methods of beach surveying even at high resolution are insufficient to measure the complex, dynamic behavior along these coasts. This study investigates the optimization of Unmanned Aerial Systems Structure from Motion (UAS-SfM) data acquisition methodology with regard to flight altitude and the configuration and amount of ground control points (GCPs). A sensitivity analysis was performed to determine the UAS and GCP characteristics that produce the most accurate digital elevation model (DEM). First, an evaluation of the UAS-SfM technique was performed and proved advantageous over traditional surveying techniques with regard to efficiency, automation, ease of use, and repeatability. The results of the sensitivity analysis showed the highest (116 m) flight altitude evaluated was the most accurate and required the least amount of survey and processing time. The optimal configuration of GCPs was determined to be (1) in the corners of the study site, (2) at high and low elevations within the study site, and (3) with sufficient cross-shore and alongshore coverage. Finally, it was found that 15 GCPs produced the best results, but that as few as 11 GCPs could be used without any significant loss in accuracy. It was also observed that fewer (≈7–9) well-placed GCPs in the optimal configuration produced the same magnitude of error as using more (15) poorly placed GCPs. Based on these results, a set of recommendations for conducting UAS-SfM surveys along complex, three-dimensional, developed coastlines is presented. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue UAV Application for Monitoring Coastal Morphology)
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