By Molly Daly
WOODS HOLE, Mass. (CBS) – A new online portal created by the U.S. Geological Survey offers a detailed look at the state of the nation’s coastlines — allowing the public to see how much the shorelines have been and continue to be shaped.
Rob Thieler, the project’s lead scientist, grew up in Northfield, New Jersey and was an Ocean City life guard through high school and college.
“I watched a lot of waves break on the beach, watched a lot of sand move around, and became sufficiently intrigued that it became my profession,” he tells KYW Newsradio.
Thieler, a USGS research geologist, says the Coastal Change Hazards Portal is aimed at helping scientists, officials, and the public understand why and how the shoreline moves:
“Is it because there’s been a change in, say, the frequency of large storms? Is it because the rate of sea level rise has changed? Is it because people have manipulated the coast and changed how sediment is transported and distributed?”
The information can be used by officials to make decisions about storm preparedness, environmental restoration, or where and how to allow development.
Thieler says the tool was designed to be easy to use.
“This particular web portal will work on a smart phone when you’re standing on the beach, it’ll work on a tablet when you’re sitting in your living room, or it’ll work when you’re on a desktop in your office.”
He adds it’s gratifying to make data available to the public that they helped fund:
“It makes my job really fun knowing that we are doing all this exciting work, and it has a value to the public.”
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