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Resolution and Accuracy of an Airborne Scanning Laser System for Beach Surveys

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  • 1 * School of Aviation, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • | 2 Water Research Laboratory, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • | 3 School of Surveying and Geospatial Engineering, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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Abstract

Airborne scanning laser technology provides an effective method to systematically survey surface topography and changes in that topography with time. In this paper, the authors describe the capability of a rapid-response lidar system in which airborne observations are utilized to describe results from a set of surveys of Narrabeen–Collaroy Beach, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, over a short period of time during which significant erosion and deposition of the subaerial beach occurred. The airborne lidar data were obtained using a Riegl Q240i lidar coupled with a NovAtel SPAN-CPT integrated Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and inertial unit and flown at various altitudes. A set of the airborne lidar data is compared with ground-truth data acquired from the beach using a GNSS/real-time kinematic (RTK) system mounted on an all-terrain vehicle. The comparison shows consistency between systems, with the airborne lidar data being less than 0.02 m different from the ground-truth data when four surveys are undertaken, provided a method of removing outliers—developed here and designated as “weaving”—is used. The combination of airborne lidar data with ground-truth data provides an excellent method of obtaining high-quality topographic data. Using the results from this analysis, it is shown that airborne lidar data alone produce results that can be used for ongoing large-scale surveys of beaches with reliable accuracy, and that the enhanced accuracy resulting from multiple airborne surveys can be assessed quantitatively.

Corresponding author address: Jason H. Middleton, School of Aviation, University of New South Wales, Anzac Parade, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia. E-mail: j.middleton@unsw.edu.au

Abstract

Airborne scanning laser technology provides an effective method to systematically survey surface topography and changes in that topography with time. In this paper, the authors describe the capability of a rapid-response lidar system in which airborne observations are utilized to describe results from a set of surveys of Narrabeen–Collaroy Beach, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, over a short period of time during which significant erosion and deposition of the subaerial beach occurred. The airborne lidar data were obtained using a Riegl Q240i lidar coupled with a NovAtel SPAN-CPT integrated Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and inertial unit and flown at various altitudes. A set of the airborne lidar data is compared with ground-truth data acquired from the beach using a GNSS/real-time kinematic (RTK) system mounted on an all-terrain vehicle. The comparison shows consistency between systems, with the airborne lidar data being less than 0.02 m different from the ground-truth data when four surveys are undertaken, provided a method of removing outliers—developed here and designated as “weaving”—is used. The combination of airborne lidar data with ground-truth data provides an excellent method of obtaining high-quality topographic data. Using the results from this analysis, it is shown that airborne lidar data alone produce results that can be used for ongoing large-scale surveys of beaches with reliable accuracy, and that the enhanced accuracy resulting from multiple airborne surveys can be assessed quantitatively.

Corresponding author address: Jason H. Middleton, School of Aviation, University of New South Wales, Anzac Parade, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia. E-mail: j.middleton@unsw.edu.au
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