EGU22-9687, updated on 14 Mar 2023
EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Using UAV topographic surveys for monitoring geomorphological evolution and restoration of the dune belt in Ravenna (Northern Adriatic Coast, Italy)

Regine Anne Faelga, Beatrice Maria Sole Giambastiani, and Luigi Cantelli
Regine Anne Faelga et al.
  • Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences Department, University of Bologna, Italy (,,

Nowadays Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is one of the most utilized tools in the field of coastal geomorphology studies due to its efficiency and cost-effectiveness to carry out high-spatial and temporal resolution topographic surveys. The images produced by UAV surveys can be processed using Structure from Motion (SfM) photogrammetry, which allows 3D reconstruction of the terrain from the series of overlapping images. This research aimed to utilize UAV topographic surveys to characterize the geomorphological evolution of a portion of the dune belt that was subjected to a restoration in 2016. The study site is located in the protected natural area of the Bevano River mouth in Ravenna, (Northern Adriatic Coast, Italy). The reinforcement of the dune system was initiated since the zone is primarily characterized as a low-lying coastal area and is subjected to increasing environmental risks, such as coastal erosion, storm surge, groundwater and soil salinization. The restoration measure included two windbreak wooden fences, which were installed in front of the dune foot and parallel to the coast to stop wind and facilitate sand deposition and accumulation, to favor embryo dune formation and prevent sand loss toward the inland, out of the sedimentary cell. UAV topographic survey, coupled with GPS ground survey using Real-time Kinematic (RTK) positioning, were carried out from 2016 to 2021 in order to assess the geomorphological evolution of the area over time. SfM photogrammetry was carried out to generate the point cloud and orthomosaic images for each survey year using Agisoft Metashape Professional. Point cloud data were interpolated in ArcMap to create Digital Elevation Models (DEMs), while the orthomosaic images were utilized to confirm the possible sources of data noise in the model and assess vegetation changes. The collected GPS data points, including Ground Control Points (GCPs) and several dune profiles, were used to validate the DEMs. Then, the volumetric changes in sediment storage over time were calculated by using the DEM of Difference (DoD) approach under the Geomorphic Change Detection (GCD) extension toolbar in ArcMap. Probabilistic thresholding was used as the uncertainty analysis method for the volume calculation. The changes in dune height and slope were assessed using both the GCD and 2D profiler toolbar as well. The results show that the windbreak fence has proven to be an effective intervention to prevent dune erosion since significant geomorphological changes and vegetation colonization have occurred. Based on volume calculations, main sand accumulation was observed along the dune foot where the fences were established. The sand deposition has also reduced the slope steepness of the dune and some profiles exhibit embryo dune development. Erosion has only been evident in the northern beach portion towards the end of the fence. An increase in both pioneer species and stabilizing plants were also noticed on the dune front and crest, respectively.

How to cite: Faelga, R. A., Giambastiani, B. M. S., and Cantelli, L.: Using UAV topographic surveys for monitoring geomorphological evolution and restoration of the dune belt in Ravenna (Northern Adriatic Coast, Italy), EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-9687,, 2022.


Display file