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Quantifying Transgressive Coastal Changes Using UAVs: Dune Migration, Overwash Recovery, and Barrier Flooding Assessment and Interferences with Human and Natural Assets

Giulia Casagrande    
Annelore Bezzi    
Saverio Fracaros    
Davide Martinucci    
Simone Pillon    
Paolo Salvador    
Stefano Sponza and Giorgio Fontolan    


The advantages derived from the use of Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are well-established: they are cost-effective and easy to use. There are numerous environmental applications, particularly when monitoring contexts characterized by rapid morphological changes and high rates of sediment transport, such as coastal areas. In this paper, three different case studies of survey and monitoring with high resolution and accuracy obtained through the use of UAVs are presented; these concern transgressive coastal sites. Results allow for the definition and quantification of coastal landforms and processes, including: (i) The anatomy of a parabolic dune and the rate of landward migration that could interfere with a tourist settlement; (ii) The mode and timing of morphological recovery and realignment of a barrier island overwashed by storm surge episodes; and (iii) The potential flood risk of a progradational spit that is a nesting site of a species of migratory breeding birds of conservation concern. The results demonstrate and confirm that, through a good coupling of drone-sensed quality data and accurate topographic control, quantitative estimates that are useful in assessing the impacts of natural processes involving both human and natural assets can be obtained.

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