Modelling the distribution of hard seabed using calibrated multibeam acoustic backscatter data in a tropical, macrotidal embayment: Darwin Harbour, Australia
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© 2017, The Author(s). Spatial information on the distribution of seabed substrate types in high use coastal areas is essential to support their effective management and environmental monitoring. For Darwin Harbour, a rapidly developing port in northern Australia, the distribution of hard substrate is poorly documented but known to influence the location and composition of important benthic biological communities (corals, sponges). In this study, we use angular backscatter response curves to model the distribution of hard seabed in the subtidal areas of Darwin Harbour. The angular backscatter response curve data were extracted from multibeam sonar data and analysed against backscatter intensity for sites observed from seabed video to be representative of “hard” seabed. Data from these sites were consolidated into an “average curve”, which became a reference curve that was in turn compared to all other angular backscatter response curves using the Kolmogorov–Smirnov goodness-of-fit. The output was used to generate interpolated spatial predictions of the probability of hard seabed (p-hard) and derived hard seabed parameters for the mapped area of Darwin Harbour. The results agree well with the ground truth data with an overall classification accuracy of 75% and an area under curve measure of 0.79, and with modelled bed shear stress for the Harbour. Limitations of this technique are discussed with attention to discrepancies between the video and acoustic results, such as in areas where sediment forms a veneer over hard substrate.
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