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Title: The use of marine radar for intertidal area survey and monitoring coastal morphological change
Author: Bird, C. O.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6058 9582
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2016
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Surveying and monitoring the dynamic morphology of intertidal areas is a logistically challenging and expensive task, due to their large area and complications associated with access. This thesis describes a contribution to the nearshore survey industry; an innovative methodology is developed and subsequently applied to marine radar image data in order to map topography within the intertidal area. This new method of intertidal topographical mapping has a reasonable spatial resolution (5 m) and operates over a large radial range (~4 km) with the required temporal resolution to observe both event-based and long-term morphological change (currently bi-weekly surveys). This study uses nearly three years of radar image data collected during 2006-2009 from an installation on Hilbre Island at the mouth of the Dee estuary, northwest UK. The development of the novel 'radar waterline method' builds on previous waterline techniques and improves upon them by moving the analysis from the spatial to the temporal domain, making the analysis extremely robust and more resilient to poor quality image data. Results from radar topographical surveys are compared to those of a LiDAR survey during October 2006. The differences compare favourably across large areas of the intertidal zone, within the first kilometre 97% of radar-derived elevations lie within 1 m of LiDAR estimations. Concentrations of poor estimations are seen in areas that are shown to be shadowed from the radar antenna or suffering from pooling water during the ebb tide. The full three-year dataset is used to analyse changing intertidal morphology over that time period using radar-derived surveys generated every two weeks. These surveys are used to perform an analysis of changing sediment volume and mean elevation, giving an indication of beach 'health' and revealing a seasonal trend of erosion and accretion at several sites across the Dee estuary. The ability of the developed technique to resolve morphological changes resulting from storm events is demonstrated and a quantification of that impact is provided. The application of the technique to long-range (7.5 km) marine radar data is demonstrated in an attempt to test the spatial and operational limitations of this new method. The development of a mobile radar survey platform, the Rapidar allows remote areas to be surveyed and provides a platform for potential integration with other survey instruments. A description of the potential application to coastal management and monitoring is presented. Areas of further work intended to improve vertical elevation accuracy and robustness are proposed. This contribution provides a useful tool for coastal scientists, engineers and decision-makers interested in the management of coastal areas that will form part of integrated coastal management and monitoring operations. This method presents several key advantages over traditional survey techniques including; the large area of operation and temporal resolution of repeat surveys, it is limited primarily by topographical shadowing and low wind conditions limiting data collection.
Supervisor: Plater, A. J. ; Bell, P. S. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral