Preprint Article Version 1 This version is not peer-reviewed

Strengths and Limitations of UAV and Ground-based Structure from Motion Photogrammetry in a Gullied Savanna Catchment

Version 1 : Received: 13 July 2017 / Approved: 13 July 2017 / Online: 13 July 2017 (02:55:02 CEST)

How to cite: Koci, J.; Leon, J.X.; Jarihani, B.; Sidle, R.C.; Wilkinson, S.N.; Bartley, R. Strengths and Limitations of UAV and Ground-based Structure from Motion Photogrammetry in a Gullied Savanna Catchment. Preprints 2017, 2017070030 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201707.0030.v1). Koci, J.; Leon, J.X.; Jarihani, B.; Sidle, R.C.; Wilkinson, S.N.; Bartley, R. Strengths and Limitations of UAV and Ground-based Structure from Motion Photogrammetry in a Gullied Savanna Catchment. Preprints 2017, 2017070030 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201707.0030.v1).

Abstract

Structure from Motion with Multi-View Stereo photogrammetry (SfM) is increasingly utilised in geoscience investigations as a cost-effective method of acquiring high resolution (sub-meter) topographic data, but has not been thoroughly tested in gullied savanna systems. The aim of this study was to test the accuracy of topographic models derived from aerial (via an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, ‘UAV’) and ground-based (via a handheld digital camera, ‘Ground’) SfM in modelling a hillslope gully system in dry-tropical savanna, and to assess the strengths and limitations of the approach at different scales. A UAV survey covered an entire hillslope gully system (0.715 km2), whereas a Ground survey covered a single gully within the broader system (650 m2). SfM topographic models, including Digital Surface Models (DSM) and dense point clouds, were compared against RTK-GPS point data and a pre-existing airborne LiDAR Digital Elevation Model (DEM). Results indicate UAV SfM can deliver topographic models with a resolution and accuracy suitable to define gully systems at a hillslope scale (e.g., 0.1 m resolution with ~ 0.5 – 1.3 m elevation error), while ground-based SfM is more capable of quantifying gully morphology (e.g., 0.01 m resolution with ~ 0.1 m elevation error). Key strengths of SfM for these applications include: the production of high resolution 3D topographic models and ortho-photo mosaics, low survey instrument costs (< $AUD 3,000); and rapid survey time (4 and 2 hours for UAV and Ground survey respectively). Current limitations of SfM include: difficulties in reconstructing vegetated surfaces; uncertainty as to optimal survey and processing designs; and high computational demands. Overall, this study has demonstrated great potential for SfM to be used as a cost-effective tool to aid in the mapping, modelling and management of hillslope gully systems at different scales, in tropical savanna landscapes and elsewhere.

Subject Areas

digital elevation model; DEM; digital surface model; DSM; great barrier reef; gully erosion; multi-view stereo; point cloud; unmanned aerial vehicle

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