Combining terrestrial lidar with single line transects to investigate geomorphic change: A case study on the Upper Verde River, Arizona

Lauren L. Tango, Temuulen Ts Sankey, Jackson Leonard, Joel B. Sankey, Alan Kasprak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Upper Verde River in northern Arizona, USA is a vital resource for the wildlife and humans that rely on its waters. We characterize the riparian corridor topography using terrestrial laser scanner (TLS) data from 2021 to 2022. We also quantify geomorphic changes associated with human and climate-driven alterations in river flow and vegetation changes by combining the contemporary lidar surveys with legacy measurements from single line geomorphology transects measured by the United States Forest Service (USFS) in 2009. Seventeen plots along the Upper Verde River were surveyed with the TLS and the data were coregistered within individual plots with a Root Mean Square Error of <0.03 m among scan positions. Digital Elevation Models (DEM) were derived for each plot from the TLS data at 10 cm resolution and compared to the 2009 USFS cross-section data to quantify elevation changes. In areas with statistically significant change, we detected maximum changes in elevation due to erosion and deposition of −0.37 m and + 0.97 m, respectively. Topographic changes over the 13-year period were predominately aggradation and associated with sediment deposition, which we hypothesize might have resulted from altered river flow and vegetation encroachment. This study also demonstrates a quantitative and statistical methodology to fuse traditional single line cross-section data with contemporary lidar data to quantify geomorphic change. The novel approach demonstrated here is broadly applicable to natural resource managers for integrating and contextualizing legacy topographic data for understanding past, present, and future landscape and habitat changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109231
StatePublished - Jul 15 2024


  • Change Detection
  • Fluvial Geomorphology
  • Remote Sensing
  • Statistical Analysis
  • Terrestrial Lidar

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes


Dive into the research topics of 'Combining terrestrial lidar with single line transects to investigate geomorphic change: A case study on the Upper Verde River, Arizona'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this