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Low-Cost UAV for High-Resolution and Large-Scale Coastal Dune Change Monitoring Using Photogrammetry

By Quentin Laporte-Fauret, Vincent Marieu, Bruno Castelle, Richard Michalet, Stéphane Bujan and David Rosebery


In this paper, coastal dune data are collected at Truc Vert, SW France, using photogrammetry via Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). A low-cost GoPro-equipped DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter and a 20 MPix camera-equipped DJI Phantom 4 Pro quadcopter UAVs were used to remotely sense the coastal dune morphology over large spatial scales (4 km alongshore, i.e., approximately 1 km2 of beach-dune system), within a short time (less than 2 h of flight). The primary objective of this paper is to propose a low-cost and replicable approach which, combined with simple and efficient permanent Ground Control Point (GCP) set-up, can be applied to routinely survey upper beach and coastal dune morphological changes at high frequency (after each storm) and high resolution (0.1 m). Results show that a high-resolution and accurate Digital Surface Model (DSM) can be inferred with both UAVs if enough permanent GCPs are implemented. The more recent DJI Phantom 4 gives substantially more accurate DSM with a root-mean-square vertical error and bias of 0.05 m and −0.03 m, respectively, while the DSM inferred from the DJI Phantom 2 still largely meets the standard for coastal monitoring. The automatic flight plan procedure allows replicable surveys to address large-scale morphological evolution at high temporal resolution (e.g., weeks, months), providing unprecedented insight into the coastal dune evolution driven by marine and aeolian processes. The detailed morphological evolution of a 4-km section of beach-dune system is analyzed over a 6-month winter period, showing highly alongshore variable beach and incipient foredune wave-driven erosion, together with wind-driven inland migration of the established foredune by a few meters, and alongshore-variable sand deposition on the grey dune. In a context of widespread erosion, this photogrammetry approach via low-cost flexible and lightweight UAVs is well adapted for coastal research groups and coastal dune management stakeholders, including in developing countries where data are lacking

Topics: digital surface model, unmanned aerial vehicle, photogrammetry, coastal dune, aeolian erosion, marine erosion, low-cost survey, Naval architecture. Shipbuilding. Marine engineering, VM1-989, Oceanography, GC1-1581
Publisher: MDPI AG
Year: 2019
DOI identifier: 10.3390/jmse7030063
OAI identifier:
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