Equipped and ready to collect data
USGS oceanographer Andrew Stevens, of the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz, California, sits on an all-terrain vehicle equipped with a precision GPS and other instruments. The GPS collects position data continuously, about 2 points per second, while an operator like Andrew drives the ATV over a beach. The points can then be rendered into a 3D representation, or profile, of the beach surface. The exact paths can be stored so that the same survey lines to be revisited at different times of the year, and over multiple years, reveals seasonal or long-term changes that might be occurring at a beach.