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River Morphology Monitoring of a Small-Scale Alpine Riverbed Using Drone Photogrammetry and Lidar

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Magdalena SmigajORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2020 International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences - ISPRS Archives.An efficient alternative to labour-intensive terrestrial and costly airborne surveys is the use of small, inexpensive Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS). These low-altitude remote sensing platforms, commonly known as drones, can carry lightweight optical and LiDAR sensors. Even though UAV systems still have limited endurance, they can provide a flexible and relatively inexpensive monitoring solution for a limited area of interest. This study investigated the applicability of monitoring the morphology of a frequently changing glacial stream using high-resolution topographic surface models derived from low-altitude UAV-based photogrammetry and LiDAR. An understanding of river-channel morphology and its response to anthropogenic and natural disturbances is imperative for effective watershed management and conservation. We focus on the data acquisition, processing workflow and highlight identified challenges and shortcomings. Additionally, we demonstrate how LiDAR data acquisition simulations can help decide which laser scanning approach to use and help optimise data collection to ensure full coverage with desired level of detail. Lastly, we showcase a case study of 3D surface change analysis in an alpine stream environment with UAV-based photogrammetry. The datasets used in this study were collected as part of the ISPRS Summer School of Alpine Research, which will continue to add new data layers on a biyearly basis. This growing data repository is freely available for research.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Backes D, Smigaj M, Schimka M, Zahs V, Grznarova A, Scaioni M

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: XXIV ISPRS Congress

Year of Conference: 2020

Pages: 1017-1024

Online publication date: 12/08/2020

Acceptance date: 02/04/2016

Date deposited: 07/01/2021

ISSN: 1682-1750

Publisher: International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing


DOI: 10.5194/isprs-archives-XLIII-B2-2020-1017-2020

Series Title: International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences - ISPRS Archives