Citizens help to survey coastlines with CoastSnap Belgium | Flanders Marine Institute

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Citizens help to survey coastlines with CoastSnap Belgium

Oostende (2020.06.04) - This week, the first Belgian CoastSnap station has been installed on the seawall of the eastbank in Oostende. The pole allows citizens to take pictures of the beach with their smartphone from a fixed position. With the photos shared on social media, scientists then set to work to study in detail the evolution of the coastline – including beach cliffs – and the beach relief, thus facilitating policy adjustments where necessary.

Press release by: Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ)

A beach is constantly evolving, along with the rhythm of the seasons. Sometimes the sand blows up, forming new dunes. At other times a winter storm causes the now infamous “beach cliffs”. Scientists study this evolution and collect data to control mathematical models. These data and models are of gold value when monitoring the beaches and when planning additional coastal protection.

From this week onwards, citizens can also actively participate in this research. The assignment is simple and builds on the Australian CoastSnap initiative: you place your smartphone in the holder on top of the CoastSnap pole and snap. You share the image of the beach on your own social media channels (don't forget to mention the hashtag #CoastSnapOostende in the post!). As simple as that for researchers to get started.

After successful launches in various countries around the world, CoastSnap has now landed in Belgium. The first station is located on the seawall along the eastbank of Oostende, near the Spinoladijk. The station was set up thanks to the DataBeach project, a collaboration of the Flemish companies IMDC, DEME, Vanbreda and Fluves, with the support of the Blue Cluster. An information panel, attached to the holder, explains you step by step how you can participate in this citizen science initiative.

A second CoastSnap station will follow soon in Koksijde (close to beach and surf club Windekind, Groenendijk). This second station is part of a research project RS4MoDy by Professor Margaret Chen at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel with support from the federal science program STEREO III. Depending on the demand and interest, additional stations might be placed on our coast later. VLIZ is responsible for the management of the raw and processed data of all stations and for the overall communication.

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