How to monitor a beach erosion?
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NEWBURYPORT — Tides and erosion here have been monitored for centuries, but using drones for the task must be a first.
The city’s Conservation Commission has contracted to deploy a local company called UAVLook to record images of the Newburyport end of Plum Island.
City officials are planning to use the images to determine patterns that might be leading to what some say are uneven aggregations of sand at the north end of the island.
“The company will conduct quarterly drone photography of specific locations on the island,” said Julia Godtfredsen, the city’s conservation administrator. “The island has been experiencing significant accretion of sand in some locations and significant loss of sand and dune area in others.
“By taking regular aerial photographs at low tides of 10 specific shoreline locations, the commission hopes to document the extent and rate of shoreline change taking place over time. We hope that the photographic data collected can then be used to support efforts to identify the causes of and potential solutions for worsening erosion.”
Officials say the cost will be about $4,950, to be paid out of the Conservation Commission treasury, which is funded by permit fees under the Newburyport Wetlands Protection Ordinance.
Some island watchers have speculated that changes in the shore might be related to “sediment transport dynamics” as a result of the recent repair of the south jetty.
A photographic record could help in the study of oceanfront changes, officials say.
Municipal leaders say that the photos will be taken quarterly at low tide and the commission may request additional photographs to be taken immediately after major storm events in order to capture the impact of storm damage.