CLARIS – Coastal LIDAR and Radar Imaging System

Researchers from the US Army Corps of Engineers who study the beaches of the Outer Banks in North Carolina have long noticed that storms cause particularly severe erosion in areas they call hot spots. “There was no way to go out during a storm and measure what the sandbars were doing, what the waves were doing, where the water was rushing up into the dunes,” Dr. McNinch a coastal scientist explained.

The solution – CLARIS, essentially a Sno-Cat fitted with radar and lidar sensors, that travels along the beach as its radar makes precise measurements of the speed, frequency and size of waves. Meanwhile, the LIDAR instrument produces highly accurate maps of beach topography, above the water and beneath it.

The readings suggest that hot spots may form because storms expose ancient river sediments — mud and gravel — in a way that causes sandbars to form at an angle to the shore, not parallel to it, intensifying wave action in the surf zone.

Click here for video. Thanks to Bill Gutelius for the heads up.

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