Observing changes from space to act on the ground

The Space for Shore consortium involves partners in six European countries where coastal erosion is a critical issue. 

For four years, more than 70 scientific and operational organisations from the 6 member countries of the programme (France, Germany, Portugal, Greece, Romania and Norway) shared their concerns and expressed their needs for regular data and information to characterise the dynamics of the coastline, to evaluate the evolution of the erosion hazard and the vulnerability of coastal areas to climate change. This work made it possible to cover 4,500 km of European coastline in these 6 countries, from the Mediterranean and Black Sea coasts, via the Atlantic-Channel-North Sea coastline, to the far reaches of the Arctic (Svalbard).

Given the scale of the data produced, automation and generalisation of algorithms have been the cornerstone of this large-scale work. Artificial intelligence has been widely used to monitor large, diverse and complex coastal areas over a long historical period and at high frequency.

A retrospective of more than 25 years has been compiled, describing historical and recent changes affecting European coastlines using satellite data, including those from the European Copernicus programme (Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2). This unique satellite resource provides products describing beach and coastline dynamics in terms of coastline position, evolution of sedimentary structures and associated sand stocks, and characterisation of coastal erosion exposure.

It is clear that these new tools are an alternative and/or a support to traditional methods of monitoring the evolution of beaches and coastlines (field monitoring, aerial flights), in a context of climate change and rapid evolution, by providing:

  • A relevant multi-scale vision of the processes affecting coastal areas

  • A significant added value for coastal managers, by providing them with permanently updated data, in a very short time and at a lower cost, on the entire territory, synthesised into up-to-date information on the exposure of their coastline to erosion.