This paper examines the feasibility of using LIDAR surveys to update existing historical shoreline data sets by comparing contour shorelines and the high water line (HWL) at eight study locations in North and South Carolina. The analysis was based on airborne LIDAR topography and orthoimagery collected simultaneously during June 2000. The popular method of digitizing the wet-dry line from orthoimagery was used to measure the HWL. Contour shorelines were derived by using the previous high tide (HW), the mean high water datum (MHW), and the mean higher high water datum (MHHW) of nearby tide gauges. A method was developed to quantitatively compare the positions of the HWL and the contour shorelines in a GIS. The mean high water and mean higher high water contour shoreline positions were the best match to the high water line at 7 of 8 locations, and differed by less than 5.4 meters from the digitized high water line positions. This difference is well within the errors associated with past methods for measuring shoreline position. Therefore, it is deemed practical to use LIDAR data to estimate the HWL.

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