Since the completion of a 398,000 m3 nourishment project along 2 km of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, in August 2005, the subaerial volume and area of the northern 25% of the beach has been monitored monthly through the use of terrestrial-based light detection and ranging (LIDAR) surveys. Traditionally, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers use analyses of beach width from aerial imagery and volumes estimated from widely spaced profile surveys to assess nourishment performance and assist in determining renourishment quantities. However, these survey methods lack the spatial and temporal resolution needed for short-term management strategies. Recent efforts at monitoring Atlantic Coast beaches using airborne LIDAR show the potential of this technology for providing more detailed representations of beach volumetric change over time, but the operational costs still limit the frequency of surveys. Alternatively, our terrestrial LIDAR study allows for the development of models of subaerial beach topography with both high temporal and spatial resolution. Although geographically less extensive than airborne surveys, the digital elevation models from our data (1) allow for a better understanding of the range in variation in beach area and volume, especially that due to storm events, (2) provide more accurate volume estimates than traditional profile surveys by as much as 8%, and (3) indicate that the area and volume do not covary, limiting the usefulness of using aerial imagery in estimating volume.
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