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Archival photogrammetric analysis of river–floodplain systems using Structure from Motion(SfM) methods

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Bakker Maarteen, Lane Stuart N.,
Project SEDFATE:Sediment fate in a changing watershed during the Anthropocene
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Earth Surface Processes and Landforms
Title of proceedings Earth Surface Processes and Landforms
DOI 10.1002/esp.4085


In this study we evaluate the extent to which accurate topographic data can be obtained by applying Structure fromMotion (SfM) photogrammetric methods to archival imagery. While SfM has proven valuable in photogrammetric applications usingspecially acquired imagery (e.g. from unmanned aerial vehicles), it also has the potential to improve the precision of topographicdata and the ease with which can be produced from historical imagery. We evaluate the application of SfM to a relatively extremecase, one of low relative relief: a braided river–floodplain system. We compared the bundle adjustments of SfM and classical pho-togrammetric methods, applied to eight dates. The SfM approach resulted in data quality similar to the classical approach, althoughthe lens parameter values (e.g. focal length) recovered in the SfM process were not necessarily the same as their calibrated equiva-lents. Analysis showed that image texture and image overlap/configuration were critical drivers in the tie-point generation which im-pacted bundle adjustment quality. Working with archival imagery also illustrated the general need for the thorough understandingand careful application of (commercial) SfM software packages. As with classical methods, the propagation of (random) error inthe estimation of lens and exterior orientation parameters using SfM methods may lead to inherent systematic error in the derivedpoint clouds. We have shown that linear errors may be accounted for by point cloud registration based on a reference dataset, whichis vital for the further application in quantitative morphological analyses when using archival imagery.