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Excessive streambank erosion is a significant source of fine sediments and associated nutrients in many river systems as well as poses risk to infrastructure. Geomorphic change detection using high-resolution topographic data is a useful method for monitoring the extent of bank erosion along river corridors. Recent advances in an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) and structure from motion (SfM) photogrammetry techniques allow acquisition of high-resolution topographic data, which are the methods used in this study. To evaluate the effectiveness of UAS-based photogrammetry for monitoring bank erosion, a fixed-wing UAS was deployed to survey 20 km of river corridors in central Vermont, in the northeastern United States multiple times over a two-year period. Digital elevation models (DEMs) and DEMs of difference allowed quantification of volumetric changes along selected portions of the survey area where notable erosion occurred. Results showed that UAS was capable of collecting high-quality topographic data at fine resolutions even along vegetated river corridors provided that the surveys were conducted in early spring, after snowmelt but prior to summer vegetation growth. Longer term estimates of streambank movements using the UAS showed good comparison to previously collected airborne lidar surveys and allowed reliable quantification of significant geomorphic changes along rivers.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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© 2019 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.



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