Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 9:20 AM


HUGENHOLTZ, Chris H., Department of Geography, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, Canada and BARCHYN, Thomas E., Department of Geography, University of Lethbridge, 4401 University Drive, Lethbridge, AB T1K3M4, Canada,

LiDAR has transformed geomorphological mapping by resolving topographic patterns and variations across the landscape that were otherwise unapparent. Similar advances are now occurring with small unmanned aircraft systems (sUASs) and softcopy photogrammetry. In particular, cost reductions, increased automation, sUAS-specific software tools and an improving regulatory landscape have made this technology a viable option for developing high-resolution topographic datasets. sUASs are different from other low-cost aerial platforms because they can be pre-programmed to fly aerial surveys and acquire imagery autonomously; thus, greater focus is placed on the data rather than how the platform is operated. For geomorphologists, sUASs also provide an opportunity to match the data with the spatio-temporal scale of the process or landscape dynamics being investigated, whereas conventional remote sensing products often force geomorphologists to adapt their research based on the cost and/or scales of the data available.

Since 2010, we’ve been testing and using sUASs for developing digital terrain models (DTMs) at a spatial resolution and accuracy comparable to (if not better than) airborne lidar. These terrain models can then be used to measure landform morphodynamics and related processes at unprecedented spatial and temporal scales.

In this presentation we will briefly outline the technology and provide some examples of sUAS applications in geomorphology, including data accuracy (with and without ground control points), change detection, volumetrics, and data limitations. Although sUASs are still relatively new, they appear to fit an important niche in geomorphology studies requiring high spatial and temporal resolution geospatial data.