Shoreline Mapping and Change Detection (National Oceanography Centre)


This service delivers coastline, and, where relevant intertidal maps. The coastline method works by identifying land-water boundaries in time series
of SAR data and high-resolution optical images. Tidal corrections are applied in order to establish locations for high and low water shorelines, and the location of mean sea level. Tidal corrections are based on available tidal models, supplemented with available tide gauge data and sea level measurements from coastal altimetry.

Multiple coastline maps produced on e.g. an annual (or more frequent) basis can be used to identify locations of shoreline change due to coastal erosion or sediment deposition. The maps can, therefore, be used to monitor regions that are known to suffer rapid shoreline change, for example to establish annual erosion/deposition rates, and also to identify new locations where shoreline changes occur.

Solution benefits

  • Informed planning of coastal defences.
  • Improved safety of coastal populations & coastal navigation.
  • Reduced risk to buildings, business and infrastructure.
  • Monitoring of coastal erosion that can cause flooding, rock falls, landslides, loss of land and damage to infrastructure.
  • Monitoring of sediment deposition and moving sandbanks obstruct port inlets and reduce maritime safety.

Key technical features

  • Shoreline maps at 10m resolution for selected locations, with estimated locations for high and low water lines. 
  • 10m resolution for up to 100km coverage per map. 
  • In areas with flat topography, maps of intertidal bathymetry can be produced. 
  • Uses Sentinel-1 SAR and Sentinel-2 MSI data.
  • Uses sea level data from altimetry and tide gauges.
  • Tidal model outputs.

Organisation overview

The National Oceanography Centre (NOC) conducts Satellite Oceanography research concerned with measuring exchanges between
the atmosphere, ocean, and marine biosphere
to predict the response of the marine system to climate change. This includes measurement of variability and change in sea level, wind and waves which, combined with in situ observations and models, can be used to inform hazard assessments. We contribute towards developing cost-effective observations of global and coastal oceans to deliver state-of-the-art operational oceanography and environmental monitoring.