How Drones Are Helping Map Rising Sea Levels

Source: Phys.org/University of Exeter

Photo: Aaron Burden/Unsplash

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Drones can be used to create low-cost and accurate 3-D maps of coastal areas, new research shows. The technique – developed by the University of Exeter – was tested at beaches where sea turtles nest, allowing scientists to see how rising sea levels will affect them. It combines drones and photogrammetry (extracting measurements from photographs) with accurate GPS satellite location to create detailed digital models of coastal habitats. Previous methods were either cheap but low in quality, or high-quality but cost thousands of pounds to produce.

Scientists tested the technology at Alagadi in Cyprus – a key nesting site for loggerhead and  – and found that a  of 1.2 metres would result in the loss of up to 67% of loggerhead nesting sites and 59% of those used by green turtles.

“Being able to accurately map out terrains in such a fine and local scale is crucial if we want to develop effective conservation strategies,” said lead author Miguel Varela, of the Centre of Ecology and Conservation on the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

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Photo: Aaron Burden/Unsplash

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