Drones help researchers to create detailed digital models of coastal habitats

UK: The technique – developed by the University of Exeter – was tested at beaches where sea turtles nest, allowing scientists to see how rising sea levels will affect them. It combines drones and photogrammetry (extracting measurements from photographs) with accurate GPS satellite location to create detailed digital models of coastal habitats.

Previous methods were either cheap but low in quality, or high-quality but cost thousands of pounds to produce.

Scientists tested the technology at Alagadi in Cyprus – a critical nesting site for loggerhead and green turtles – and found that a sea level rise of 1.2 meters would result in the loss of up to 67 percent of loggerhead nesting sites and 59 percent of those used by green turtles.

“Being able to accurately map out terrains in such a fine and local scale is crucial if we want to develop effective conservation strategies,” said lead author Miguel Varela, of the Centre of Ecology and Conservation on the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

“Most of the studies on climate change impacts are done on a global scale, but is also crucial to understand what will happen on local areas.

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