‘Coastal Imaging’ simply means the automated collection, analysis and storage of digital photographs, which can be processed to quantify and document shoreline changes.
Aerial photography and nearshore surveys are the tools that in the past have been most commonly used by coastal managers to monitor coastline behaviour. The information obtained by both these monitoring techniques is discontinuous in the time and space, and therefore coverage is often ‘patchy’ and incomplete. Aerial photos are only obtained when the airplane is in the air and visibility is satisfactory, and land or boat based surveys are only possible during favourable weather conditions. As a result, photographic and survey information is usually restricted to a limited number of days per year, with no information about the behaviour of the beach between these periods.
In contrast, with the development of digital imaging and image analysis techniques, one or more automated cameras can be installed at a remote site and, via an internet connection, be programmed to collect and transfer a time-series of images to the laboratory. This growing image database, taken at regular intervals every hour of the day for periods of years, can cover up to several kilometres of a coastline. Not every image need be subjected to detailed analysis, but by this method the coastal manager can be confident that all ‘events’ will be documented and available for more detailed analysis as required. The Coastal Imaging technique provides the ability for coastal managers to continuously monitor, document and quantify shoreline changes, with the added benefit that information can be regularly issued to the public on an automated basis if required.