EGU General Assembly 2020
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the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The SECOSTA Project. Citizen science to monitor beach topography with low cost instruments

Gabriel Jordà1, Miguel Agulles2, Joaquím Tomàs-Ferrer2, and Joan Puigdefabregas2
Gabriel Jordà et al.
  • 1Instituto Español de Oceanografia, Centre Oceanografic de Balears, Palma, Spain (
  • 2Institut Mediterrani d'Estudis Avançats, Universitat de les Illes Balears, Palma, Spain

Beach monitoring plays a fundamental role both for the knowledge of coastal morphodynamics and to assess the risk of coastal flooding. This an very relevant topic for areas in which economies are based on coastal activities like maritime transport or coastal tourim. Unfortunately, up to now the instrumentation and the means required to carry out such monitoring involve very high costs. In consequence, only a limited number of beaches can be studied in detail.

One of the main objectives of the European project SOCLIMPACT is to quantitatively assess the loss of beach surface in the European islands due to projected climate change under different emission scenarios. The main handicap of that activity is to gather accurate information of beach characteristics (topography, bathymetry, granulometry). In order to sort out that problem, the SECOSTA citizen science project has been launched with the support of the Balearic Islands regional government.

In the SECOSTA project, low cost instrumentation based on ARDUINO technology has been developed to measure both the topography and the bathymetry of the beaches. Then, an educational programme has been launched in secondary schools to teach the students to build those instruments and to perform several observational campaigns to characterize sandy beaches along the Balearic Islands. In summary, more than 20 different secondary schools have participated involving more than 2000 students in the construction of devices, acquisition and processing of data. The results have then used as the observational basis for a scientific study about projections of beach retreat in the European islands. Also, both the educational programme and the scientific results have received a broad coverage in the media. With this project, different sectors of citizenship (high school students, teachers, technicians, local government, press etc.,) are directly involved addressing one of the major challenges our society is facing (i.e. sea level rise impacts).  The same approach could  be translated to other fields developing suitable instrumentation.

How to cite: Jordà, G., Agulles, M., Tomàs-Ferrer, J., and Puigdefabregas, J.: The SECOSTA Project. Citizen science to monitor beach topography with low cost instruments, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-9023,, 2020.


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  • CC1: Comment on EGU2020-9023, Leda Pecci, 04 May 2020

    Dear Gabriel, the work carried out it's interesting. Is it possible to know the  project of  the instrumentation  that you have realised in the framework of the project to adopt it in other countries?

    • AC1: Reply to CC1, Gabriel Jordà, 04 May 2020

      Dear Leda,

      Write me an email ( and we can talk about it. We have several designs for low-cost oceanographic instruments, but I'm not sure if that will fit your needs.

      Best regards,