Shifting sands and tides make it difficult to measure accurately the amount of beach that’s available for recreation, development and conservation, but a team of UGA researchers has combined several remote sensing technologies with historical data to create coastal maps with an unsurpassed level of accuracy.
In a study published in the August issue of the journal Tourism Management, they apply their technique to Georgia’s Jekyll Island and unveil a new website that allows developers, conservationists and tourists access to maps and data on beach availability, tidal ranges and erosion.
“Policymakers, coastal managers and conservationists can use this information to help make more informed decisions about managing coastal resources,” said lead author Byungyun Yang, a recent graduate of the geography doctoral program and current research associate at the UGA Center for Remote Sensing and Mapping Science, part of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.
Beach area is typically measured using the same costly and time-consuming land-based survey techniques that are used to plan roads, subdivisions and other projects. The UGA researchers’ technique, on the other hand, combines LiDAR (light detection and ranging) data with high-resolution satellite imagery to provide an exceptional level of detail and accuracy.
By combining the sources of remote sensing data with historical shoreline maps dating to 1857, the scientists created detailed maps that precisely delineate the boundary between the ocean and the land.