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St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center > Coastal Change Hazards: Hurricanes and Extreme Storms

Coastal Change Hazards: Hurricanes and Extreme Storms

Lidar

Schematic of  Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Lidar system
Figure 1: Schematic of EAARL system. [larger version]
In a cooperative research program, the U.S. Geological Survey, NASA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have been mapping the coastlines of the United States using airborne laser altimeters, or lidar (light detection and ranging). The laser altimeter scans a several hundred meter wide swath of the earth's surface acquiring an estimate of ground elevation every few square meters. Baseline surveys conducted during periods of calm weather are compared to surveys collected following extreme storm events in order to quantify the resulting coastal change. (Examples of lidar-measured coastal change: a Nor'easter on Assateague island and Hurricane Katrina's impact on Dauphin Island.)

global positioning system base station
Figure 2: GPS base station used in support of EAARL lidar survey of the Mississippi barrier islands in June 2007. (photo credit: Wayne Wright, NASA) [larger version]

Two instruments are currently used for the majority of our surveying efforts: NASA's EAARL (Figures 1 and 2) and the U.S. Army Corps' CHARTS. These instruments survey hundreds of kilometers of coast in a single day with data densities that cannot be achieved with traditional survey technologies. Specifications for the lidar instruments can be found on the individual websites for NASA's EAARL and U.S. Army Corps' CHARTS. Airborne scanning laser surveys are providing unprecedented data to investigate the magnitude and causes of coastal changes that occur during severe storms.

For additional information on the EAARL instrument and processing of EAARL data, please refer to the website for the USGS Integrated Remote Sensing and Modeling Group.

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Related links:

Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Lidar (EAARL)
USGS

Compact Hydrographic Airborne Rapid Total Survey (CHARTS)
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)


St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center > Coastal Change Hazards: Hurricanes and Extreme Storms

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