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Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center

Using Video Imagery to Study Coastal Change

Main and Cowells Beaches, Santa Cruz, California

Gerry Hatcher, left, and Shawn Harrison work on their video camera station atop a hotel in Santa Cruz, California. Photo by Shawn Harrison, USGS

Gerry Hatcher (left) and Shawn Harrison work on their video camera station atop a hotel in Santa Cruz, California. Learn more from the USGS News article, “Eyes on the Coast—Video Cameras Help Forecast Coastal Change.” Photo by Shawn Harrison, Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center, USGS

Two video cameras atop the Dream Inn hotel in Santa Cruz, California overlook the coast in northern Monterey Bay. Camera 1 looks eastward over Santa Cruz Main Beach and boardwalk, while Camera 2 looks southward over Cowells Beach. The cameras are part of the Remote Sensing Coastal Change project.

Every half hour during daylight hours, the cameras shoot video for 10 minutes. Today’s most recent images are shown below. Please note that it takes 10 minutes for the images to be posted, once they are collected by the camera.

Other video cameras are installed:

These and other images are used to remotely sense a range of processes, including:

Please note: If old photos are displayed, cameras may be temporarily offline.

Snapshot
first frame of the video, just like a standard photo
Camera 1, Main Beach
Most recent snapshot from camera one.
  Camera 2, Cowells Beach
Most recent snapshot from camera two.
Timex (Time-Exposure)
time-averaged image of all frames over 10 minutes smooths away surface waves and
helps determine the location of persistent wave-breaking (indicative of shallow sandbars)
Camera 1, Main Beach
Most recent time-averaged image.
  Camera 2, Cowells Beach
Most recent time-averaged image.
Variance Image
standard deviation of pixel intensity throughout the video frames,
useful for determining how much variation or movement is occurring at a given location
Camera 1, Main Beach
Most recent variance image from camera one.
  Camera 2, Cowells Beach
Most recent variance image from camera two.
Bright Image
brightest pixel values at each location throughout the video,
useful to identify the position of maximum wave run-up on the beach,
position of all breaking waves, and sea-state
Camera 1, Main Beach
Most recent bright image from camera one.
  Camera 2, Cowells Beach
Most recent bright image from camera two.
Dark Image
darkest pixel values at each location throughout the video,
useful for tracking sediment plumes, tracking floating debris, and
filtering out breaking waves
Camera 1, Main Beach
Most recent dark image from camera one.
  Camera 2, Cowells Beach
Most recent dark image from camera two.

USGS plans to install similar systems in other remote locations. The knowledge gained will improve simulations of shoreline change that communities can use to plan for sea-level rise, changing storm patterns, and other threats to beaches.

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information. For more information, please contact Shawn Harrison (srharrison@usgs.gov).

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