Low cost coastal data collection using citizen science

  • John Hart

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Coastal monitoring is becoming increasingly important due to factors such as climate change and beach data is needed to determine the relative vulnerability of different beach features and locations. Citizen science is a term used for projects which actively encourage public interaction in the data collection phase of projects and it has been noted as a tool to collect large datasets, while engaging local communities with important research questions. This work will assess the use of coastal monitoring citizen science projects which use fixed point imagery collected by the public as a tool for collecting coastal data. Furthermore, the social aspects of such projects will be examined to determine whether this method allows engagement which offers potential for increased dialogue between coastal managers and local communities. Interviews with current coastal mangers also allow an idea of how future projects could be used in this context. The thesis demonstrates that publicly sourced imagery can be used for coastal monitoring purposes, although limitations with the data are evident. Many individuals who engaged with the project responded positively to a survey suggesting this method of data collection has potential for wider community engagement. Limitations such as the frequency of data collection and the importance of location were noted as potential issues identified by coastal mangers. Despite this, potential in publicly sourced imagery clearly exists for both the collection of coastal data and also the wider engagement of local communities. Tools which actively encourage the public to take part in data collection have an opportunity to engage locals with important coastal issues, while collecting vital coastal data to aid our understanding of how beaches are changing.
Date of Award16 Jun 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorChris Blenkinsopp (Supervisor), Jonathan Du Bois (Supervisor) & Ian Walker (Supervisor)


  • coastal monitoring
  • citizen science
  • climate change

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