Sand dunes provide coastal communities critical protection from flooding and erosion, as well as a habitat for a range of species- some threatened or endangered. As such, it is of importance to develop a quantitative understanding of the processes through which these systems evolve at a variety of temporal and spatial scales. During summer 2016, a large field campaign in southwest Washington called the Sandbar-aEolian Dune EXchange EXperiment (SEDEX2) focused on developing a suite of data sets fundamental to improving our understanding of the ways in which beaches and dunes grow during fair weather conditions. As part of this experiment, daily to bi-weekly measurements of upper-beach and vegetated dune morphology were collected by post-processing images acquired using a consumer grade kite-based aerial photography system with low-cost Agisoft Photoscan Structure from Motion (SfM) software. Under the appropriate environmental conditions (e.g., sufficient wind, no precipitation, and minimal fog), kite-based SfM techniques minimize survey effort and time as compared to traditional coastal surveying methods such as RTK DGPS and Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS), making this approach ideally suited for frequent surveys of small (~< .0025 km2) coastal areas. However, while the dominant grass in the area, A. breviligulta (American Beachgrass), is critical for perturbing the wind field, impacting sediment transport processes, and partially dictating dune morphology, it grows densely and therefore complicates the development of aerial photography derived bare-earth digital elevation models. Here we document daily-to-weekly-scale upper beach and dune evolution using kite-based SfM techniques, focusing particularly on improving the efficacy of this technology both in vegetated areas and over short timescales. Our kite-based SfM approach, validated by concurrent RTK DGPS surveys, TLS scans, and dune vegetation surveys, is allowing us to develop quantitative estimates of the sediment exchange between the back-beach and dunes. Other data collected during SEDEX2 are being utilized to determine the primary drivers of these observed changes.
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