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On the potential for remote observations of coastal morphodynamics from surf-cameras

April 1, 2022

Recreational surf-cameras (surfcams) are ubiquitous along many coastlines, and yet are a largely untapped source of coastal morphodynamic observations. Surfcams offer broad spatial coverage and flexibility in data collection, but a method to remotely acquire ground control points (GCPs) and initial camera parameter approximations is necessary to better leverage this existing infrastructure to make quantitative measurements. This study examines the efficacy of remotely monitoring coastal morphodynamics from surfcams at two sites on the Atlantic coast of Florida, U.S.A., by leveraging freely available airborne lidar observations to acquire remote-GCPs and open-source web tools for camera parameter approximations, ignoring lens distortion. Intrinsic and extrinsic camera parameters are determined using a modified space resection procedure, wherein parameters are determined using iterative adjustment while fitting to remote-GCPs and initial camera parameter approximations derived from justified assumptions and Google Earth. This procedure is completed using the open-source Surf-Camera Remote Calibration Tool (SurfRCaT). The results indicate root mean squared horizontal reprojection errors at the two cameras of 3.43 m and 6.48 m. Only immobile hard structures such as piers, jetties, and boulders are suitable as remote-GCPs, and the spatial distribution of available points is a likely reason for the higher accuracy at one camera relative to the other. Additionally, lens distortion is not considered in this work. This is another important source of error and including it in the methodology is highlighted as a useful avenue for future work. Additional factors, such as initial camera parameter approximation accuracy, likely play a role as well. This work illustrates that, provided there is sufficient remote-GCP availability and small lens distortion, remote video monitoring of coastal areas with existing surfcams could provide a usable source of coastal morphodynamic observations. This is further explored with a shoreline change analysis from the higher-accuracy camera. It was found that only the largest (>6 m) magnitude shoreline changes exceed the observational uncertainty driven by shoreline mapping error and reprojection error, indicating that remotely calibrated surfcams can provide observations of seasonal or storm-driven signals.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title On the potential for remote observations of coastal morphodynamics from surf-cameras
DOI 10.3390/rs14071706
Authors Matthew P. Conlin, Peter N. Adams, Margaret Louise Palmsten
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Remote Sensing
Index ID 70236571
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center