Lasers will be used as part of a 12-month study of the Mary River near Darwin aimed at providing a better understanding of how rising sea levels will affect the area.
Civil engineers from Charles Darwin University are leading the project on behalf of the Territory government to assess the effectiveness of several man-made barrages.
CDU's Professor of Civil Engineering, Eric Valentine said the study will use the latest technology to track the movement of water around the barrages and across the floodplain.
"We'll be surveying the floodplain in various ways and we're hoping to use a lidar technique," he said. "This is an aerial-borne laser measurement technique to discover the topography of the land and that information will be used in our numerical models to monitor the flows in the system."
The Mary River floodplain comprises a number of wet and dry habitats which support populations of endangered birds and fish. A major saltwater control program has been implemented in the lower Mary floodplain since 1987, and numerous earthen barrages have been constructed to minimize tidal flow and saltwater intrusion.