World-first for UNSW’s Water Researchers

World-first for UNSW’s Water Researchers

A ground-breaking coastal monitoring experiment will help protect our beaches into the future.

UNSW Researchers collecting data on how beaches respond to waves, using a UAV

Beaches are great places to relax, but they are also the first line of defence when huge storm waves hit coastal communities. Professor Ian Turner of UNSW’s Water Research Laboratory is spearheading important research that aims to preserve these seaside areas.

“It’s crucial that we collect data on how beaches respond to waves, both during energetic storm events and over the longer term duration ,” says Professor Turner.

By collecting data, UNSW researchers can develop and test models to accurately forecast coastal change under a range of different scenarios, ultimately providing the necessary tools for emergency services and coastal planners.

In this world-first monitoring exercise, researchers analysed six survey techniques, including state-of-the-art technology, to simultaneously monitor a coastal location. Narrabeen Beach was selected as researchers have 40 years’ worth of data making it one of the longest records of coastal change at any site worldwide.

Along with traditional on-ground survey methods, the team used highly sophisticated remote sensing technologies including the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s new Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, a plane-mounted Lidar system flown by the School of Aviation, and video monitoring by the Collaroy-Narrabeen coastal imaging station.

The research aims to rigorously assess the various strengths and accuracies of each technique. “Potentially this technology will be rolled-out for rapid assessment of coastal erosion and recovery across large stretches of coastline in Australia and elsewhere”.

The research is supported by a new ARC Discovery Research project.

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