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Remote Sensing Applications


Remote sensing data and imagery can be valuable tools in various stages of managing various natural coastal resources. Remote sensing can be used to monitor the effects of severe weather such as thunderstorms, tropical storms, hurricanes, and winter storms ("nor'easters"). In addition, remote sensing provides detailed information about coastal elevation that can be useful in post-storm damage assessment by surveying and inventorying storm damage areas.

By combining airborne observed information on coastal topography with satellite observed information on turbidity, existing erosional areas along with potential problem areas can be identified by state coastal management agencies. This information allows for long range development planning and disaster prevention activities. As a result, high hazard areas can be targeted by resource managers for priority hazard mitigation or beach stabilization activities.

Remote sensing data can also be valuable in post-disaster response and recovery efforts. Comparisons of high resolution pre- and post-disaster coastal topography can be used to quickly map the extent of damages from storms. Also, changes in environmental conditions (e.g., vegetation, habitat) can be identified to assist in estimating the long-range environmental consequences.


Coastal erosion involves a combination of geophysical, oceanographic, and atmospheric processes. By addressing the full range of environmental factors, remote sensing information can be useful in identifying erosion areas and quantifying the extent of erosion. The case study presented on this CD explores one of these capabilities, aircraft laser beach mapping which collects digital topographic elevation data using a cost-effective aircraft platform to identify erosional, accretional, or stable shoreline areas allowing quantification of the extent of shoreline change. Another technique, satellite hurricane observations combine hurricane images with pre- and post-disaster sea surface temperature and turbidity images to identify storm-induced coastal changes that could potentially impact erosion rates in the effected areas.

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