Thesis: Coastal Zone Monitoring

Sample Thesis Paper

The coastal zone is a dynamic environment susceptible to change. Waves, storms and sea-level rise lead to coastal erosion that shapes landscapes. Human activities such as coastal engineering and pollution and natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes also impact on this sensitive environment. We have so far reviewed literature on the processes causing shoreline changes and coastal erosion, trying to gain a better understanding of the complex nature of phenomena such as climate change, hurricanes, flooding, waves and wind intensity.

The importance of monitoring and assessing these changes has been thoroughly studied and reviewed by marine and coastal zone scientists in published work around the globe. We have cited various techniques that have been developed by scientists and coastal managers for successful management of diverse coastal areas. Conventional and traditional mapping techniques such as ground surveys and aerial photography have been used for decades to identify shoreline changes and are still implemented in various sites worldwide. With advancing technology however highly sophisticated techniques utilising remote sensing have emerged. Video systems, satellite imaging, and LIDAR are currently widely utilised in the study of coastal as shown by the plethora of case studies available. It is apparent to us that the choice of monitoring method used in each study depends upon the characteristics of the study area and the constrictions imposed to researchers by the environment in which the study takes place (e.g. use of LIDAR in large coastal areas). Quite frequently a monitoring method is complemented by another (e.g. GPS mounting on all-terrain vehicle for ground surveys) so that the accuracy of the technique is enhanced. The dynamic nature of the coastal environment however, causing currently used methods to become obsolete, coupled with the need for cost-effective monitoring techniques is constantly leading coastal scientists to seek new methods for successful coastal zone surveillance. The attention has now been drawn to the virtual globe geo-browsers as a tool for tracking geo-morphological changes. Virtual globes have become extremely popular amongst individual non-scientist users as a means of geo-visualisation.

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