GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 156-5
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


VINHATEIRO, Nathan and HALL, Paul, RPS ASA, South Kingstown, RI 02879,

Monitoring programs that collect long-term information on beach morphology are fundamental to understanding how processes such as storms and sea level rise shape the coast. One such program, maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory, includes a 36-year record of beach profiles, nearshore bathymetry, and meteorologic and oceanographic measurements collected at the Field Research Facility (FRF) in Duck, NC. The records have been used to study seasonal and interannual trends in beach profile changes, quantify erosion during storms, and to characterize subsequent beach recovery. Although the dataset is in the public domain, a limiting factor in its use has been rapid, reliable access to the profiles and associated oceanographic data.

Here we present a web-based platform developed to allow interactive exploration and analysis of coastal geomorphology data and to facilitate comparison with simultaneous oceanographic data (e.g., water level, currents, wave climate). The platform was developed by the USACE Mobile District Spatial Data Branch and RPS ASA for the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (USACE ERDC) and includes both a data management system and a suite of visualization and analysis tools. The system allows easy display of both beach profiles and LiDAR data and includes on-the-fly plotting functions to visualize changes in these data over time. It also provides tools for performing a variety of basic analyses, such as calculation of beach cross-sections or extraction of shoreline positions from profile data. Most importantly, the relationship between coastal morphology and environmental forcing can be examined at a variety of timescales, providing greater understanding of the evolution of sandy beaches due to both short-term (storm) events and longer-term (climatic) trends.

The platform utilizes a modern web technology stack with a Javascript front end and a Python back end to manage the web services. The design is flexible enough to support a myriad of coastal geology datasets and although developed for the USACE, the system can be readily implemented at other locations to provide scientists, engineers, planners, and science educators with a user-friendly tool for monitoring coastal change and placing it in context of environmental forcing.

  • Vinhateiro_GSA2016_Poster.pdf (2.8 MB)