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Monitoring coastal morphodynamics using high-precision multibeam technology

Figure 1 The multibeam system as implemented onboard the RV “Ludwig Prandtl”. The light underwater cone symbols the beam swath, devices inside the circles show (from left to right) gyro compass, motion senor, ship-borne GPS-RTK, sound profiler, and RTK land base.

Monitoring coastal morphodynamics is of importance when for example coastal erosion of accretion is present or protective measure are taken and the effectiveness of these measures need to be known. Monitoring this process in time is of importance to manage the developments in the right way. A technique to do this is by high-precision multibeam technology. This technology is explained in this article and an example of application is given. This shows how high-precision multibeam technology can be used in practice.

Coastal erosion, bathymetric changes of the near coast seabed or the stability and dispersal of dredged and disposed material are among the key questions of coastal management: What are the effects of coastal protection measures? How effective are they? Do they generate new burdens on the coastal system? Which processes control the movement of the seabed? What are the typical scales for the rearrangement of bed material? What types of seabed structures contribute most to the transport of the bed material? To what extent are morphological changes predictable? Answers to these questions are still limited by a lack of observational evidence. Most of all, area-wide data are required to allow for comprehensive views of the relevant bed structures ranging over horizontal scales from decimetres to kilometres. The detection of seabed changes over these wide ranges of scales requires observational systems that combine high spatial resolution down to decimetres with high precision and accuracy in the horizontal and vertical positioning of the seabed structures in the range of centimetres.