High-Resolution Monitoring of Coastal Dune Erosion and Growth Using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 10:50 AM
Gerben Ruessink1, Henk Markies2 and Marcel Van Maarseveen2, (1)Utrecht University, Physical Geography, Utrecht, 3584, Netherlands, (2)Utrecht University, Physical Geography, Utrecht, Netherlands
Coastal foredunes lose and gain sand through marine and aeolian processes, but coastal-evolution models that can accurately predict both wave-driven dune erosion and wind-blown dune growth are non-existing. This is, together with a limited understanding of coastal aeolian process dynamics, due to the lack of adequate field data sets from which erosion and supply volumes can be studied simultaneously. Here, we quantify coastal foredune dynamics using nine topographic surveys performed near Egmond aan Zee, The Netherlands, between September 2011 and March 2014 using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The approximately 0.75-km long study site comprises a 30-100 m wide sandy beach and a 20-25 m high foredune, of which the higher parts are densely vegetated with European marram grass. Using a structure-from-motion workflow, the 200-500 photographs taken during each UAV flight were processed into a point cloud, from which a geo-referenced digital surface model with a 0.25 x 0.25 m resolution was subsequently computed. Our data set contains two dune-erosion events, including that due to storm Xaver (December 2013), which caused one of the highest surge levels in the southern North Sea region for the last decades. Dune erosion during both events varied alongshore from the destruction of embryonic dunes on the upper beach to the slumping of the entire dune face. During the first storm (January 2012), erosion volumes ranged from 5 m3/m in the (former) embryonic dune field to over 40 m3/m elsewhere. During the subsequent 11 (spring – autumn) months, the foredune accreted by (on average) 8 m3/m, again with substantial alongshore variability (0 - 20 m3/m). Intriguingly, volume changes during the 2012-2013 winter were minimal. We will compare the observed aeolian supply rates with model predictions and discuss reasons for their temporal variability. Funded by the Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research NWO.