Light detection and ranging (LIDAR) techniques, combined with Global Positioning Systems (GPSs), make it possible to obtain accurate topographical and bathymetric maps, including maps of shoreline positions. LIDAR surveys can produce 10- to 15-cm vertical accuracy at a spatial resolution greater than one elevation measurement per square meter. This meets the requirements of many coastal research and management applications of LIDAR, including flood zone delineation, monitoring beach-nourishment projects, and mapping changes along sandy coasts and shallow benthic environments from storms or long-term sedimentary processes. Typically, a LIDAR sensor may collect data down to depths of about three times the Secchi depth. If the depth or the water turbidity is too great, acoustic echo-sounding is used. Airborne LIDARs have also been applied with hyperspectral imagers to map wetlands, beaches, coral reefs, and submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV). The objective of this article is to review the use of LIDAR techniques for collecting topographic and bathymetric data and to present three case studies, including lessons learned from each.
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Vol. 27 • No. 6