Scientists take to Seven Mile Beach to unravel mystery of waves

University of Newcastle scientists armed with laser scanners and sensors arrived at Seven Mile Beach on Wednesday.

The group are on the South Coast to learn more about how waves and beaches work together and change over time.

Senior lecturer Dr Hannah Power said the team would be installing their instruments on the beach and in the water to measure waves in the surf zone.

“We’ll be using a laser scanner and pressure sensors to record wave parameters such as wave heights and periods as well as measuring current speeds,” Dr Power said.

“We’ll also be surveying the beach topography.”

Dr Power said Seven Mile Beach was an important site for coastal researchers, with scientists conducting surf zone experiments there since the early 1980s.

The researchers will spend seven days camped at the northern end of Seven Mile Beach with their high tech gear.

“We’re also interested in improving our understanding of what happens to waves after they break, how they change as they progress across beaches and how individual waves interact, for example you may have seen one wave overtake another wave in the surf, so that’s one of the things we’re looking at,” Dr Power said.

“All of these things have implications for sediment transport – how sand moves around on beaches – that ultimately changes how beaches look in the longterm.

“What we’re doing here is trying to understand the fundamental physics of how beaches work and by improving that understanding we will end up with better models of how beaches change with time, which will improve coastal planning and management.”

Kiama Council asks beach users to be aware of the presence of the team and their equipment when on the shore or in the water.

All instruments will be marked clearly with high visibility flags and reflectors.

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