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Victoria’s changing coastline monitored by volunteers high in the sky on a citizen scientist initiative

The camera produces a three-dimensional beach model that accurately measures coastline changes as part of the Victoria Coastal Surveillance Program. These models can also be used to predict how beaches will react to storms and sea level rise during climate change.

The program is the world’s first successful citizen scientist program to explore the causes of coastline changes and is the finalist of this year’s Australian Museum Eureka Award, Australia’s most comprehensive science award.

Daniel Yellowdiakonou, an associate professor of marine sciences at Deakin University’s Warnambourg campus, said:

Citizen scientists flew drones along a given flight path every six weeks, streamlining complex tasks that until recently required multiple beach surveyors.

Australian scientists are already looking at evidence of ocean climate change, with satellites showing wave heights in the Antarctic Ocean increasing by up to 5 percent over the last 33 years. Researchers have discovered that larger waves were caused by extreme wind increases.

Australian scientists are already looking at evidence of ocean climate change, with satellites showing wave heights in the Antarctic Ocean increasing by up to 5 percent over the last 33 years.

This year, a winter storm surge occurred in Victoria, affecting roads and other infrastructure in towns such as Inverloch, Apollo Bay and Cape Patterson.

Coastal program scientists have also established Victoria’s first network of wave buoys in the Bass Strait, publishing that information online and mapping the ocean floor. The way the waves interact on the coast depends on the shape of the seabed, Ierodiaconou said.

“Understanding the sediments there helps us understand what’s available on our beaches,” he said.

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Some volunteers have been collecting data for over two years, signaling the decision to “regenerate” beaches, including Apollo Bay, to replace areas of sand.

Beckman became a citizen scientist in the Coastal Surveillance Program and said it was invaluable in educating the local community about the Portland coastline.

“All this information is very important for climate adaptation strategies,” he said. “If there is sea level rise or acidification, adaptations are needed to protect the land and the environment in which it is built.”

This initiative is a joint project of Deakin University, the University of Melbourne, and the Faculty of Environment, Water, Land and Planning.

Karina Sorrell, a volunteer scientist on the loan, with a drone used to take 3D images of the Victorian coastline.

Miki Perkins is a senior journalist and environmental reporter at The Age.

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