Coastline delineation is important in maritime boundary determination, as well as for analyzing coastline change rates due to coastal erosion, sea level change, storms, and other causes. Coastline change rate estimates depend on the uncertainty of the current and historical coastlines used in the analysis, which, in turn, depend on the surveying technologies and techniques that were originally used. Current techniques for coastline mapping include photogrammetric delineation using tide-coordinated aerial imagery. However, in many developing countries, the charted coastlines may have been inadequately and inconsistently mapped largely due to inadequate resources. This paper describes the use of an automated technique for coastline mapping and classification that is based on satellite imagery. A spectral analysis using different image bands can be used to define the land/water boundary and characterize the coastal area around the coastline. A first-order uncertainty analysis was also performed. The satellite-derived coastlines were compared to charted coastlines to evaluate the adequacy and consistency of the charted coastlines. The satellite-derived coastlines were also compared to coastlines derived from historical maps to assess changes and change rates. The results of the coastline uncertainty analysis were then used to compute propagated uncertainties in coastline change rate estimates and to gain greater insight into actual changes. The procedure was developed in a GIS environment using study sites along the Nigerian coastline. However, this procedure can be applied to other poorly charted/mapped coastal areas as well.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

Canadian Hydrographic Conference

Conference Date

May 15 - May 17, 2012

Publisher Place

Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada


Canadian Hydrographic Association

Document Type

Conference Proceeding