Sample Thesis Paper
The prediction of coastal evolution is difficult as coastal zones are dynamic environments hostile to the application of surveying and monitoring techniques (Moore 2000). The unpredictable nature of the continuous changes of the coastlines makes it difficult for coastal scientists and managers to acquire and maintain up to date shoreline data. Various conventional surveying techniques have been used to observe and understand the development and evolution of coastal areas, but with recent advances in technology highly sophisticated methods have emerged.
A ground survey consists of measurements along beach segments spaced at regular intervals along the shore. This is a simple method providing the surveyors with very high accuracy along each segment, providing a way of understanding coast dynamics.
Volumetric gains and losses along the beach can be assessed and data on short-term shoreline movement and beach stability can be obtained. Surveys need to be repeated at regular intervals (usually annually) but supplemental surveys are also useful especially after big storms. Ground surveys are highly labour intensive and time consuming and they are not the optimum technique to observe large areas. Their use is also limited in poor weather conditions. GPS technology however has enabled re-survey along the same segment increasing accuracy and precision, allowing study of the coast as a three dimensional phenomenon. Morton et al (1993), conducted beach surveys by attaching GPS equipment to an off-road vehicle in order to collect coast profile data.
Aerial photography has been long recognised as a valuable tool for monitoring coastal change. Historically, aerial photography has been used in Germany in the early twentieth century for coastline mapping and in East Indies for the study of coral reefs. This technique has clear advantages over maps since more data can be recorded and large coastal areas can be covered in order for coastal processes to be studied. Compared to ground-based techniques aerial photography provides a permanent recording that can be stored and retrieved and has better spatial resolution. Aircrafts can cover large study areas in a short time and survey coasts which are not accessible otherwise. High accuracy of this method can be achieved provided that land reference points are available.