Depth Inversion from Wave Frequencies in Temporally Augmented Satellite Video

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Optical satellite images of the nearshore water surface offer the possibility to invert water depths and thereby constitute the underlying bathymetry. Depth inversion techniques based on surface wave patterns can handle clear and turbid waters in a variety of global coastal environments. Common depth inversion algorithms require video from shore-based camera stations, UAVs or Xband-radars with a typical duration of minutes and at framerates of 1–2 fps to find relevant wave frequencies. These requirements are often not met by satellite imagery. In this paper, satellite imagery is augmented from a sequence of 12 images of Capbreton, France, collected over a period of ∼1.5 min at a framerate of 1/8 fps by the Pleiades satellite, to a pseudo-video with a framerate of 1 fps. For this purpose, a recently developed method is used, which considers spatial pathways of propagating waves for temporal video reconstruction. The augmented video is subsequently processed with a frequency-based depth inversion algorithm that works largely unsupervised and is openly available. The resulting depth estimates approximate ground truth with an overall depth bias of −0.9 m and an interquartile range of depth errors of 5.1 m. The acquired accuracy is sufficiently high to correctly predict wave heights over the shoreface with a numerical wave model and to find hotspots where wave refraction leads to focusing of wave energy that has potential implications for coastal hazard assessments. A more detailed depth inversion analysis of the nearshore region furthermore demonstrates the possibility to detect sandbars. The combination of image augmentation with a frequency-based depth inversion method shows potential for broad application to temporally sparse satellite imagery and thereby aids in the effort towards globally available coastal bathymetry data.