Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Darin Stephenson, Mathematics & Statistics; Dr. Brian Yurk, Mathematics & Statistics

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As members of the Hope College Coastal Research Group, we have studied the mechanisms for and effects of sand transport. In particular, we have worked to model vegetation coverage in West Michigan sand dune complexes in order to better understand how sand movement and resident vegetation affect one another. We use aerial drone imagery to develop machine learning algorithms for creating ground cover classification mappings in an automated way. Our team collected drone imagery ranging from high-resolution, low-altitude photographs to high-altitude stitched and rectified orthomosaics. We developed accurate ground cover classification methods for the low-altitude imagery and then explored ways of using those results to make similar predictions based on data collected from higher elevations. This required us to develop mappings between images using key point matching for image alignment. This poster details our work in using random forest models to classify land cover from low elevations and subsequent attempts to use these results for surface cover classification over a broader spatial extent.


This research was supported by the Strosacker Foundation Faculty Development Fund and the Jobe and Julie Morrison Family Faculty Development Fund.