The image is just one out of tens of thousands captured last year during an extensive programme of aerial coastal surveying for the South West Coastal Monitoring Programme, led by Teignbridge District Council. The surveys were part of a massive programme of research around the entire UK coast, which also includes Lidar data, topographic surveys, bathymetry and habitat mapping.

The data is available on the Regional Coastal Monitoring Programme website.

Scientists and researchers are able to use the images and other data to better understand the forces and processes shaping the coastal environment. What makes APEM’s image special is the use of the near infrared, made possible by the advanced RCD-30 camera from Leica.

APEM’s project manager, Sophie Nunn, said: “For scientists, photographing in the near infrared has a really useful effect – any living vegetation stands out very clearly in red. This can tell us a lot about what’s happening in the coastal habitats we want to survey and understand.

“It also makes it very useful for classifying different kinds of land use, which is one of the other things we often use the Leica RCD-30 for. It’s even been sent over to the US where it’s been used for surveys in the Florida Everglades and New England.”

Last summer’s coastal surveys had to be planned in minute detail. They needed to capture as much of the exposed coastline as possible during very low tides. But these tides only happen every couple of weeks, and in fact occur at slightly different times along the coast.

Add in the fact that the coast varies from narrow strips to broad swathes and that the sun must be at the optimum angle and the whole process can get very tricky.

Once each survey flight is completed, the thousands of images are downloaded from the camera system and APEM’s image analysts can get to work on them with the help of proprietary software.

The images are first colour balanced and then stitched together using special pixel-matching algorithms that identify common features between them.

Then ground control data is inputted and the imagery is provided to the client in both red-green-blue and colour infrared versions.

Find out more about APEM’s image in last year’s calendar here.

If you have any queries, please contact Sophie Nunn, senior remote sensing scientist.
Alternatively you can email us here. Or call 0161 442 8938.