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The use of high-resolution field laser scanning for mapping surface topography in fluvial systems

, : The use of high-resolution field laser scanning for mapping surface topography in fluvial systems. IAHS-AISH Publication 291(Pages 269-277

Advances in spatial analytical software allow digital elevation models (DEMs) to be produced which accurately represent landform surface variability and offer an important opportunity to measure and monitor morphological change and sediment transfer across a variety of spatial scales. Many of the techniques presently employed (aerial LIDAR, EDM theodolites, GPS, photogrammetry) suffer coverage or resolution limitations resulting in a trade off between spatial coverage and morphologic detail captured. This issue is particularly important when rates of spatial and temporal change are considered for fluvial systems. This paper describes the field and processing techniques required for oblique laser scanning to acquire 0.01-m resolution digital elevation data of an upland reach of the River Wharfe in the UK. The study site is variable with rapidly changing morphology, diverse vegetation and the presence of water, and these are evaluated with respect to DEM accuracy. Issues regarding location, frequency and distance are discussed with reference to survey accuracy and efficiency for the scanner, and a field protocol is proposed. Data cloud merging was achieved with a high degree of accuracy (sub-centimetre) and scanner accuracy is shown to be very good for exposed surfaces. Vegetation and water decrease the accuracy, as the laser pulse is often prevented from reaching the ground surface or is not returned.


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