The application of LiDAR to investigate foredune morphology and vegetation



Publication Details

Doyle, T. B. & Woodroffe, C. D. (2018). The application of LiDAR to investigate foredune morphology and vegetation. Geomorphology, 303 106-121.


LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) has been used to investigate coastal landform morphology, evolution, and change for almost a decade. Repeated airborne LiDAR surveys can provide the scientific community with significant observations of how shorelines have evolved, which may then enable forecasts of future patterns of change. However, there have been few studies that have considered the application of this new technology to the specific study of foredune morphology and vegetation. The accuracy and appropriateness of airborne LiDAR needs to be assessed, particularly where the density of vegetation may obscure the underlying topography, prior to interpreting derived geomorphic features. This study: i) tests the vertical accuracy of airborne LiDAR in 37 foredune systems along the coast of south-eastern Australia, and ii) demonstrates that it can be used to describe foredune morphology and vegetation in considerable detail. There was a strong correlation between the remotely-sensed LiDAR-derived elevation and field topographic and vegetation surveys (R 2 = 0.96). A protocol for obtaining foredune geomorphic and botanical parameters is described. It enables widespread biogeomorphic characterisation along coasts for which LiDAR data is available, which can benefit both coastal managers and researchers alike.

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