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Centre for Earth and Environmental Science Research

Kite aerial photography for monitoring coastal change in the Netherlands

Executive Summary
ResearchersDr Paolo Paron (UNESCO-IHE)
Dr Mike Smith
Dr Niels Anders (University of Wageningen)
Funding Body/SourceUNESCO-IHE
AbstractApplication of a kite aerial photogrammetry system for the routine acquisition of imagery in order to monitor the spatio-temporal beach change in a highly dynamic beach environment.


Coastal protection is one of the main challenges for the Netherlands, where a large proportion of anthropogenic activity is located below sea level. The Dutch government is implementing an innovative method of costal replenishment using natural waves and winds to relocate sand from the one side to the other of the country. This requires close monitoring of the spatio-temporal evolution of beaches in order to correctly model the future direction and amount of sand movement.

As a proof-of-concept we tested a Kite-Aerial Photogrammetry System for monitoring the beach dynamics at Zandmotor (

This is a challenging environment that is highly dynamic environment and with low texture and relief. The method used here consists of: 1) setting up the Kite Aerial Photography System (KAPS); 2) locating the ground targets (ground control points); 3) surveying the targets for their XYZ position; 4) flying the kite over the area acquiring stereopairs for the whole area; 5) post-processing of the photos and GPS points.

Equipment: a commercial DSLR camera (Nikon D7000 with a 20mm lens), a gyro-levelled rig, Sutton flow form kite and Leica GNSS Viva GS10, with GSM connection to the Dutch geodetic network.

Fig1: Use of a kite to collect data for aerial photogrammetry

Fig2: The Sand Motor coastal protection system Zuid-Holland at Ter Heijde.

Selected publication(s)

Smith, M.J., Chandler, J., Rose, J. 2009 High spatial data acquisition for the geosciences: kite aerial photography, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 34: 155-161. DOI:

Paron, P., Smith, M.J. 2013 Kite aerial photogrammetry system for monitoring coastal change in the Netherlands. 8th IAG International Conference on Geomorphology, Paris, August.

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