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Profilers sought for Pine Point

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Posted: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 9:56 am

SCARBOROUGH - The University of Maine Cooperative Extension Program is seeking six to eight volunteers willing to collect beach-profiling data for Pine Point in Scarborough.

The goal is to monitor monthly changes in sand erosion. No prior scientific knowledge is needed. Contact Jacob Aman at 646-1555, ext. 112, or jacobaman@wellsnerr.org to sign up or for more information.

“Sandy beaches in southern Maine are a huge driver of economic activity,” Aman said. “The combined effects of sea-level rise and increased storm frequency and severity driven by climate change will have potentially sudden and dramatic effects on the character of our beaches. Beach profile monitoring helps us to understand how the beaches respond to these forces so that we can plan for the future.”

The beach profile data collected will be submitted to the Maine Geological Survey, he added, and the information will be used by state geologists, who will review and analyze the data to produce reports every two years regarding the impact of climate change on Maine’s beaches.

The Southern Maine Volunteer Beach Profile Monitoring Program is a project of the Maine Sea Grant initiative, which is overseen by the cooperative extension at the University of Maine. The university is one of 33 Sea Grant College programs across the country.

“Beach profiling is a simple surveying technique used to measure changes in the contour of the monitored beach,” according to the Maine Sea Grant website. “The Southern Maine Volunteer Beach Profile Monitoring Program is a unique collaboration among local volunteers, participating municipalities, and scientists, resulting in (the collection of) 15 years of critical data on the status of one of Maine’s most vital and valuable natural resources.”

The sea grant website states that “Comparing profile lines makes it possible to measure changes in the distribution of sand on the beach. Tracking these changes over long periods provides the Maine Geological Survey with data to identify seasonal, annual and even long-term trends in beach erosion and accretion. This data is used to inform beach management decisions at the local and state level and the data is shared at the annual Maine Beaches Conference.”

Every month, volunteers monitor the changes in sand movement along 12 beaches from York to South Portland, according to the sea grant website. Aman said the time commitment is typically two hours each month.

He said volunteers are asked to measure sand elevation between the sand dune and the low-water line. “The technique is relatively simple, and requires no previous experience or training.  Volunteers also have the opportunity to participate in educational opportunities and network with scientists, beach managers and other volunteers,” according to Aman.

He said beach profile monitoring is critical in tracking long-term and seasonal trends in sand erosion and accretion.

“This information is necessary to understand how our sandy beaches are changing over time,” Aman added. “Profile data is used to inform beach management decisions, evaluate the efficacy of beach restoration activities, assess risk to coastal property and inform coastal erosion and flooding forecasting.”

See http://www.seagrant.umaine.edu/extension/beach-profile-monitoring/ for more information about the Maine Sea Grant and the beach profiling program.

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