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Technical Feasibility of Creating a Beach Grain Size Database with Citizen Scientists

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Technical Report

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ERDC Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory Vicksburg United States

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The goal of this Coastal and Hydraulics Engineering Technical Note CHETN is to investigate the feasibility of collecting beach grain size information with images collected by citizen scientists to build a globally accessible database. Engaging citizen scientists in scientific information collection through crowdsourcing has become a more popular and cost-effective way to collect large amounts of data while increasing interest in the research through public engagement Irwin 2018. Citizen scientists equipped with their personal smartphones allow for very large datasets to be collected that would otherwise be financially or logistically impossible. Additionally, it provides an opportunity to educate and engage the general public. Sediment grain size information collected through crowdsourcing could be particularly helpful in preliminary studies where sediment grain size information is not easily accessible or in large-scale studies where the sediment grain size is spatially variable. This information could be used in many different types of beach studies including the preliminary estimations of the depth of closure Hallermeier 1981, application in the Sediment Mobility Tool McFall et al. 2016 McFall and Brutsch 2018, or in large-scale shoreline change studies Bauer-Civiello et al. 2018 Luijendijk et al. 2018 Harley et al. 2019. Additionally, most coastal projects and studies use coastal morphological models that assume a single, well-sorted grain size that is determined from a limited number of sediment samples collected in the field and processed in a laboratory, while it is known that the grain size varies spatially and temporally Gallagher et al. 2011 Prodger et al. 2016. Soulsby 1997 identified the grain size as having the largest uncertainty of any parameter for sediment transport models. Having a spatially and temporally dense grain size database would be very beneficial for quantifying the uncertainty of coastal engineering projects.

Subject Categories:

  • Crystallography
  • Information Science
  • Soil Mechanics

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