Remote sensing of the environment with laser scanners can provide highly accurate 3D spatial definition of surfaces; however difficulties arise if the target surface is water. A feasibility experiment and a field test of terrestrial laser scanning technology for water surface measurements has been carried out and the results are summarised in this paper. The paper finds that a disturbed water surface as found in the surf zone is a suitable target for laser scanning and a case for further research utilising laser technology for water surface measurement is presented.


The measurement of water levels and to some extent water surface profiles has spanned many centuries. Starting with basic methods such as manual level readings, initial technology could only provide limited information for people interested in monitoring water levels. Thanks to the development of accurate electronic sensors over the previous century water measurement devices have become autonomous and highly accurate. Water level measurement is an essential part of planning, design and monitoring in areas such as water supply, seafaring, agriculture, construction and scientific investigation. Laser scanning technology is investigated in this paper for the purpose of wave measurement and in doing so presents the technology as a mechanism for collection of data for numerical model calibration.

Remote sensing technology

The most common method for wave measurement in the field is the insitu approach. Remote sensing has recently become a high-tech method for spatial data collection, especially in surveying, and provides an alternative to the in-situ approach to wave measurement. When compared it is evident that there are certain advantages and disadvantages of either in-situ measurement or remote sensing. As technology improves the advantages of remote sensing will increase and as a result hold the potential to become a powerful tool for spatial definition of water profiles and surfaces

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