• beach surface moisture;
  • remote sensing;
  • aeolian geomorphology;
  • Greenwich Dunes


A remote sensing technique for assessing beach surface moisture was used to provide insight into beach-surface evolution during an aeolian event. An experiment was carried out on 21 October 2007 at Greenwich Dunes, Prince Edward Island National Park, Canada, during which cameras were mounted on a mast on the foredune crest at a height of about 14 m above the beach. Maps of beach surface moisture were created based on a calibrated relationship between surface brightness from the photographs and surface moisture content measured in situ at points spaced every 2.5 m along a transect using a Delta-T moisture probe. A time sequence of maps of surface moisture content captured beach surface evolution through the transport event at a spatial and temporal resolution that would be difficult to achieve with other sampling techniques such as impedance probes. Erosion of the foreshore and berm crest resulted in an increase in surface moisture content in these areas as the wetter underlying sediments were exposed. Flow expansion downwind of the berm crest led to sand deposition and a consequent decrease in surface moisture content. Remote sensing systems such as the one presented here allow observations of the combined evolution of beach surface moisture, shoreline position, and fetch distances during short-term experiments and hence provide a comprehensive rendering of sediment erosion and transport processes. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.