A method has been developed for estimating shoreline position from airborne scanning laser data. This technique allows rapid estimation of objective, GPS-based shoreline positions over hundreds of kilometers of coast, essential for the assessment of large-scale coastal behavior. Shoreline position, defined as the cross-shore position of a vertical shoreline datum, is found by fitting a function to cross-shore profiles of laser altimetry data located in a vertical range around the datum and then evaluating the function at the specified datum. Error bars on horizontal position are directly calculated as the 95% confidence interval on the mean value based on the Student's t distribution of the errors of the regression. The technique was tested using lidar data collected with NASA's Airborne Topographic Mapper (ATM) in September 1997 on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Estimated lidar-based shoreline position was compared to shoreline position as measured by a ground-based GPS vehicle survey system. The two methods agreed closely with a root mean square difference of 2.9 m. The mean 95% confidence interval for shoreline position was ?? 1.4 m. The technique has been applied to a study of shoreline change on Assateague Island, Maryland/Virginia, where three ATM data sets were used to assess the statistics of large-scale shoreline change caused by a major 'northeaster' winter storm. The accuracy of both the lidar system and the technique described provides measures of shoreline position and change that are ideal for studying storm-scale variability over large spatial scales.
Additional publication details
Estimation of shoreline position and change using airborne topographic lidar data