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Detecting Small-scale Topographic Changes and Relict Geomorphic Features on Barrier Islands using SAR

Research Objectives

The shapes and elevations of barrier islands may change dramatically over a short period of time during a storm. Coastal scientists and engineers, however, are currently unable to measure these changes occurring over an entire barrier island at once. The Bureau of Economic Geology and the Center for Space Research is hoping to overcome this problem by developing the use of interferometry from airborne synthetic aperture radar (AIRSAR) to measure coastal topography and to detect storm-induce changes in topography.

Digital elevation models (DEM) of Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsula, Texas obtained with Topographic SAR (TOPSAR) are compared with measurements by Global Positioning System (GPS) ground surveys and electronic total station surveys. In addition to topographic mapping, this project is evaluating the use of POLSAR to detect old features such as storm scarps, storm channels, former tidal inlets, and beach ridges that have been obscured by vegetation, erosion, deposition, and artificial filling.

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Last Modified: Wed Apr 14, 1999