The study of the morphodynamics of tidal channel networks is important because of their role in tidal propagation and the evolution of salt-marshes and tidal flats. Channel dimensions range from tens of metres wide and metres deep near the low water mark to only 20-30cm wide and 20cm deep for the smallest channels on the marshes. The conventional method of measuring the networks is cumbersome, involving manual digitising of aerial photographs. This paper describes a semi-automatic knowledge-based network extraction method that is being implemented to work using airborne scanning laser altimetry (and later aerial photography). The channels exhibit a width variation of several orders of magnitude, making an approach based on multi-scale line detection difficult. The processing therefore uses multi-scale edge detection to detect channel edges, then associates adjacent anti-parallel edges together to form channels using a distance-with-destination transform. Breaks in the networks are repaired by extending channel ends in the direction of their ends to join with nearby channels, using domain knowledge that flow paths should proceed downhill and that any network fragment should be joined to a nearby fragment so as to connect eventually to the open sea
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