An automated approach for extracting Barrier Island morphology from digital elevation models Academic Article uri icon


  • 2016 Elsevier B.V. The response and recovery of a barrier island to extreme storms depends on the elevation of the dune base and crest, both of which can vary considerably alongshore and through time. Quantifying the response to and recovery from storms requires that we can first identify and differentiate the dune(s) from the beach and back-barrier, which in turn depends on accurate identification and delineation of the dune toe, crest and heel. The purpose of this paper is to introduce a multi-scale automated approach for extracting beach, dune (dune toe, dune crest and dune heel), and barrier island morphology. The automated approach introduced here extracts the shoreline and back-barrier shoreline based on elevation thresholds, and extracts the dune toe, dune crest and dune heel based on the average relative relief (RR) across multiple spatial scales of analysis. The multi-scale automated RR approach to extracting dune toe, dune crest, and dune heel based upon relative relief is more objective than traditional approaches because every pixel is analyzed across multiple computational scales and the identification of features is based on the calculated RR values. The RR approach out-performed contemporary approaches and represents a fast objective means to define important beach and dune features for predicting barrier island response to storms. The RR method also does not require that the dune toe, crest, or heel are spatially continuous, which is important because dune morphology is likely naturally variable alongshore.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Wernette, P., Houser, C., & Bishop, M. P.

citation count

  • 32

complete list of authors

  • Wernette, Phillipe||Houser, Chris||Bishop, Michael P

publication date

  • January 2016