The Texas High School Coastal Monitoring Program Overview of Field Measurements

The central element in the high school coastal monitoring program is at least three class field trips during the academic year. During each trip, students visit several locations and apply scientific procedures to measure beach morphology and make observations on beach conditions.

Beach Profile

Students use a pair of Emery rods, a metric tape, and a hand level to accurately survey a shore-normal beach profile from the foredunes to the waterline. The students begin the profile at a GPS-surveyed datum stake so that they can compare each new profile to earlier profiles.

Shoreline Mapping

Using a differential GPS unit, students walk along the vegetation line and shoreline, mapping these features for display on Geographic Information System software. The GPS mapping provides measurements of the rate of shoreline change.

Sediment Sampling

Students take sediment samples along the beach profile at the foredune crest, berm top, and beach face. They then sieve the samples, weigh the grain size fractions, and inspect the grains using a microscope.

Beach Processes

Students measure wind speed and direction, estimate the width of the surf zone, and observe the breaker type. They note the wave direction, height and period, and estimate the longshore current speed and direction using a float, stop watch, and tape measure. Students also learn to obtain weather and oceanographic data from resources on the Internet.