Drone shots assist 3D mapping for Alaska wave study

A digital elevation model for Cannon Beach made from an orthophoto (Image: AHERC)

Alaska Hydrokinetic Energy Research Center (AHERC) researchers have collected survey data in Yakutat that will allow for the creation of a 3D map of the beach as part of government-backed wave energy study.

The researchers conducted a multibeam bathymetry survey and perform a land survey of Cannon Beach, as part of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)-funded wave energy converter study to assess the possibility of generating power from waves in Alaska.

The survey will allow the creation of a 3D map of the beach using AHERC’s drone, a DJI Phantom 3 Professional, according to the center.

AHERC research engineer Paul Duvoy is the in the final stage of processing the aerial pictures to produce a digital elevation model of a 10-kilometer section of Cannon Beach with a resolution of 19 centimeters per pixel, AHERC informed.

The 3D model will also be used to create orthophotos — aerial pictures rectified for topographic relief, lens distortion and camera tilt.

The land survey consisted of 20 ground transects and approximately 1,000 points measured. This combined aerial and ground survey will assist researchers in characterizing the erosion processes of Cannon Beach, the northwestward migration of the Situk River’s mouth and the river’s deposition of large woody debris on the beach, according to AHERC.

Yakutat is a community along the northeast coast of the Gulf of Alaska that is currently considering utilizing renewable, wave-based electricity generation in order to decrease their reliance on diesel fuel for electricity generation.

The three-year wave energy project, expected to be completed in 2020, will collect scientific and technical data sufficient for complete economic feasibility assessment, and establish firm scientific understanding of seabed dynamics, ambient underwater noise, and fish and marine mammal presence and habitat requirements in the offshore project area of Yakutat.

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