Monitoring spatiotemporal variation in beach surface moisture using a long-range terrestrial laser scanner

Junling Jin, Jeffrey Verbeurgt, Lars De Sloover, Cornelis Stal, Greet Deruyter, Anne-Lise Montreuil, Sander Vos, Philippe de Maeyer, Alain De Wulf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The measurement of surface moisture on beaches is vital for studying aeolian sand transport mechanisms, but existing techniques are not adequate for monitoring the surface moisture dynamics over a substantial beach section. In this study, we investigated the suitability of a new remote sensing method to monitor the spatiotemporal variation in surface moisture on a sandy beach using a long-range static terrestrial laser scanner (TLS). The TLS was permanently deployed on top of a 42 m high building overlooking the study site at Ostend-Mariakerke, Belgium. Considering the effect of target surface roughness on the intensity and the laboratory’s length limitation, a new intensity correction method is proposed which only uses the field point cloud data measured on a homogenous beach surface (without time-consuming indoor experiments). Based on the corrected intensity data, the relation of the beach surface moisture to the corrected intensity was modeled by an exponential model with a correlation-coefficient squared of 0.92. A moisture estimation model was developed which can directly derive the beach surface moisture from the original intensity data of the TLS with a standard error of 2.27%. The hourly surface moisture dynamics across two tidal cycles on the beach were investigated as a case study, in which the point clouds derived from corresponding unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) imagery are utilized to improve the calculation accuracy of the incidence angles of TLS point clouds at long distances. Results reveal that, after the intensity correction, the long-range static TLS is an extremely suitable technique to monitor the surface moisture dynamics (daytime and nighttime) over a substantial beach section (hundreds of meters) at a high scanning frequency (minutes to hours).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-208
Number of pages14
JournalISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Aeolian sand transport
  • Beach surface moisture
  • Intensity correction
  • Terrestrial laser scanning


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