Using Video Imagery to Study Coastal Change: Sunset State Beach

Science Center Objects

USGS scientists installed two video cameras overlooking the coast at Sunset State Beach in Watsonville, California, to better understand nearshore processes and how they change seasonally and during storms.

Currently, video cameras are active at these locations:

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

  • shoreline position,
  • sandbar migration,
  • rip-channel formation,
  • wave run-up on the beach,
  • alongshore current, and
  • nearshore bathymetry.

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

Examples of past imagery

Snapshot

The snapshot is the first frame of the video, just like a standard photo.

Vegetation in foreground up on a beach bluff above flat beach with waves.

Northwest

Vegetation in foreground up on a beach bluff above flat beach with waves.

North

 

 

Timex (time-exposure) images

A timex is a time-averaged image of all frames, smoothing away surface waves and determining the location of persistent wave-breaking (indicative of shallow sandbars).

 

Vegetation in foreground up on a beach bluff above flat beach with waves.

Northwest

Vegetation in foreground up on a beach bluff above flat beach with waves.

North

 

Variance images

A “variance” image shows the standard deviation of pixel intensity throughout the video, and it is useful for determining how much variation or movement is occurring at a given location.

Vegetation in foreground up on a beach bluff above flat beach with waves.

Northwest

Vegetation in foreground up on a beach bluff above flat beach with waves.

North

 

Bright images

A “bright” image shows the brightest pixel values throughout the video, useful for identifying the position of maximum wave run-up on the beach, position of all breaking waves, and sea-state.

Vegetation in foreground up on a beach bluff above flat beach with waves.

Northwest

Vegetation in foreground up on a beach bluff above flat beach with waves.

North

 

Dark images

A “dark” image shows the darkest pixel values throughout the video, useful for tracking sediment plumes, tracking floating debris, and filtering out breaking waves.

Vegetation in foreground up on a beach bluff above flat beach with waves.

Northwest

Vegetation in foreground up on a beach bluff above flat beach with waves.

North