DRONES have been used to to measure the impact of storms on Warrnambool’s beaches.
Researchers from the Deakin University Warrnambool Campus have taken to the sky to document any damage and have also published a new paper on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, for assessing the impact of storm bite on sandy beaches and coastal ecosystems.
The research was conducted by Daniel Ierodiaconou, Alexandre Schimel and David Kennedy, flying Deakin commercial drones under Victorian Unmanned Aerial systems commercial operations.
Senior lecturer in aquatic spatial in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences Dr Ierodiaconou said imagery collected before and after major storm events was ideal for assessing coastal landscape change.
Using traditional satellite sensors and manned aerial systems can be challenging due to cloud cover, expenses and resolution.
He said advances in drone technology allowed for collection of aerial imagery and topography at a resolution suitable for assessing change in coastal ecosystems.
UAV-based aerial photography was collected before and after a major storm event and revealed that following the storm, erosion was over 7,000 cubic metres along 550 metres of beach.
The researchers were able to assess the erosion at centimetre scale for large areas, which is simply not possible using traditional approaches
“The volume of sand cut from the beach face and retreat of the fore dune are clearly illustrated,” Dr Ierodiaconou said.
He said the unlimited virtual vantage points provided valuable perspective for tracking landscape change at a reasonable cost.
Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology is ideal for areas inaccessible to conventional manned aerial platforms.
“UAVs are a potentially critical tool for the development of map products to assess disaster response for isolated communities and have the potential to fill an important data gap between direct ground observations and satellite/aerial based sensors,” Dr Ierodiaconou said.
He said the ability of beaches to adjust their shape is the key factor in allowing them to dissipate waves under a variety of energy conditions.