Coastal Erosion Monitoring

The Town of Cambridge manages a 4.5 km stretch of coastline, comprising the longest area of continuous natural coastal vegetation in Perth metro. Floreat beach is a wave-dominated beach subject to significant beach coastal dune erosion. It has been designated as a Coastal Erosion Hotspot by the Western Australia Government. One of the recommendations of the WA Government report is to:

“Collect information on local coastal dynamics to better understand sand movement, landform stability and shoreline response at hotspot specific scale..”

The project seeks to ground-truth sand movement to document the trend in erosion or accretion and vegetation success rates. The data will quantify the effect of dune stabilisation treatments.

It will accurately monitor and map dynamic elements – dune stability, vegetation cover, human impact.


The monitoring trial was conducted over 12 months with four aerial surveys to capture seasonal variations from spring (2018) to summer, autumn and winter of 2019.

The camera used to capture the images – a SONY A7RII 42MP – provided an image resolution of 1 cm (on the ground) per pixel.

Flights were programmed to be fully autonomous at an altitude of 60 m AGL, travelling at 9m/sec, allowing the flights to be replicated to provide consistent data capture.

The drone used to carry the camera was a DJI M600 using PPK GPS, recording the exact location of each image taken – the latitude, longitude and height.


Utilising a drone based survey and mapping system versus a traditional land-based methodology, not only saved a great deal of time, but provided a much richer and detailed data set.

In addition to high quality photographs and video animations (flyovers), other outputs included:

  • LAS files presented as densified point clouds and 2.5D digital surface models – to view with spatial software such as QGIS, Cloud Compare
  • Geotiff files presented as digital terrain models & orthomosaics – to view in QGIS, ER Viewer
  • Contour lines – shape files to view in any GIS software
  • 3D triangle mesh files – to view in Sketchfab
  • HTML and KML files to enable orthomosaics to be viewed in Google Maps/Google Earth respectively
  • Analysis of sand volume movement (cu metre) per unit of area (square metre)
  • Green index (vegetation) analysis

The data outputs provide a range of ways to document, analyse and visually present the natural sand movement (accretion and erosion) along the shoreline and the dunes, the positive impact of treatment measures (lateral fencing), vegetation success rates and the adverse impact of uncontrolled public access.


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