Modeling Uncertainty in Photogrammetry-Derived National Shoreline


Tidally-referenced shoreline data serve a multitude of purposes, ranging from nautical charting, to coastal change analysis, wetland migration studies, coastal planning, resource management and emergency management. To assess the suitability of the shoreline for a particular application, end users require reliable estimates of the uncertainty in the shoreline position. Previous studies on modeling uncertainty in shoreline mapping from remote sensing data have focused on airborne light detection and ranging; to date, these methods have not been extended to aerial imagery and photogrammetric shoreline mapping, which remains the primary shoreline mapping method used by the National Geodetic Survey. The aim of this article is to develop and test a rigorous total propagated uncertainty model for shoreline compiled from both tide-coordinated and non-tide-coordinated aerial imagery using photogrammetric methods. The uncertainty model is developed using data from a study site in northeast Maine. For the study area, the standard uncertainty was found to be ∼3.2–3.3 m, depending on whether the imagery was tide coordinated or not. The uncertainty model developed in this paper can easily be extended from the study area to other areas and may facilitate estimation of uncertainty in inundation models and marsh migration models.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

Marine Geodesy


38, Issue 2




Taylor & Francis

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type

Journal Article