Bringing the Ocean to Society
2 May 2017
COASTWARDS platform available for you to upload your pictures at the beach
And it is not beacuse of that mindblowing sunset or your toes in the sand...

What do you see when you look at a beach? Most people see... a beach. Some people however see grain sizes, beach cusps, offshore submerged sand bars, runup levels, reflective and dissipative beach profiles, different types of breaking waves, dunes with overwash breaches, erosion bluffs and many many more features. Now the pictures we all love to take while having a great time along the shoreline can help those who study beaches. 

How? Imagine you are trying to figure out how wide was a certain beach decades ago or how tall were its dunes. Imagine you need to know if a migrating tidal inlet has ever reached a certain position that could affect those houses that today appear to be in a safe place. Imagine you need to know how did a coastal cliff look like before its latest landslide. Got it? Well, that picture of you playing in the sand when you were a kid might just serve to show all that and much more. Trust us... the pictures you and your family and friends took many years ago can definitely serve to a group of researchers.

Curious? Then you should definitely check the COASTWARDS online platform. EurOcean got in touch with its Project Manager, Maureen Tsakiris, to know more about the project:

Hi Maureen! So who is behind the project?

This is a project by the Coastal Risks and Sea-level Rise Research Group, which is part of the Department of Geography of the University of Kiel and it is funded by the Cluster of Excellence ‘The Future Ocean’.

And what are the objectives of COASTWARDS?

The objective is to expand a global database of coastal types which supports the application of integrated assessment models for the assessment of vulnerability to climate change induced sea-level rise. Since it’s a Citizen Science project, there is also the objective of raising awareness regarding the risks of sea-level rise in coastal areas. 

Great! What has been done and achieved so far?

We launched the project on the 24th March 2017, so we only just started integrating the incoming data into the existing database. We are also trying to follow the principles of “Agile development” which in a sentence is: frequent, incremental changes in response to user feedback. This means we are evaluating data quality and will adapt the platform according to our findings with e.g. better guidelines. This also means the platform is still being developed and important changes will surely take place in the near future.

How long will the platform last?

That’s a good question. Maintenance is due to end in July this year; however, since public reception is very good, we are carefully optimistic it will be continued beyond that date. We have already applied for more funding.

How does it relate with ongoing marine/coastal research?

Coastal systems are currently sustaining intense natural and anthropogenic pressures due to climate change and associated sea-level rise as well as coastal migration and urbanization, which lead to significantly increased risks from coastal hazards. Assessments of impacts, risk and vulnerability to hazards such as flooding or erosion, at various scales are therefore important for damage prevention (local scale), land-use planning (basin and regional scale), resource allocation and development of long-term adaptation strategies (global scale) and pathways. Such assessments, usually based on integrated assessment models are however severely impeded by the lack of appropriate spatial information on coastal physical characteristics. COASTWARDS was developed to collect such information with the help of citizens worldwide. 

Looks amazing! Congrats on the initiative and hope you get plenty of really nice AND useful pictures.

Thanks and, by the way, I would suggest anyone interested to keep checking back the platform in the coming months as we will launch a new beta version of the platform soon. Also, if you have anyone has comments or suggestions, we would be happy to hear them!

+ INFO: http://www.coastwards.org/