In order to reap the potential of airborne lidar surveys to provide geological information useful in understanding coastal sedimentary processes acting on various time scales, a new set of analysis methods are needed. This paper presents a multi-temporal lidar analysis of north Assateague Island, Maryland, and demonstrates the calculation of lidar metrics that condense barrier island morphology and morphological change into attributed linear features that may be used to analyze trends in coastal evolution. The new methods proposed in this paper are also of significant practical value, because lidar metric analysis reduces large volumes of point elevations into linear features attributed with essential morphological variables that are ideally suited for inclusion in Geographic Information Systems.
A morphodynamic classification of north Assategue Island for a recent 10 month time period that is based on the recognition of simple patterns described by lidar change metrics is presented. Such morphodynamic classification reveals the relative magnitude and the fine scale alongshore variation in the importance of coastal changes over the study area during a defined time period. More generally, through the presentation of this morphodynamic classification of north Assateague Island, the value of lidar metrics in both examining large lidar data sets for coherent trends and in building hypotheses regarding processes driving barrier evolution is demonstrated.