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3D Modeling of Urban Streambanks Using an UAS and SfM

Authors: Kim Mobley*, , Jacob Napieralski, University of Michigan, Dearborn
Topics: Environmental Science, Geomorphology, UAS / UAV
Keywords: Urban, river, riverbank, erosion, 3D, SfM, Structure from Motion, UAS, UAV, drone
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Urbanization replaces the natural landscape with impervious surfaces, significantly impacting the hydrologic cycle. Impervious surfaces reduce precipitation infiltration, resulting in substantial fluvial effects such as higher peak flows, extensive erosion, and rapid geomorphic change. These effects compromise riverbank stability, leading to increased sediment removal and mass wasting events in an urban environment.

The purpose of this study was to produce a 3D model that can be used for urban river erosion studies. Aerial imagery was collected using an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS or “drone”) with a mounted high-resolution mirrorless camera. Photos were geotagged using the onboard telemetry and Mission Planner, and then processed through Structure from Motion (SfM) software to produce a high-resolution 3D mesh. This model can be used in future studies to identify impacted stream reaches and conduct stability assessments, which could guide restoration efforts. It can also be used to map erosion over time or after significant storm events, track and quantify sediment movement, study geomorphic change, perform transect surveys, and as an educational tool.

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