First Field Work in Western Australia

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This week our coastal modellers Alex Maskell and Mike Thomson have hit the road from Perth, Western Australia. Heading south from our office, they have been busy looking at the beaches between Perth and Bunbury, as Alex explains.

“Heading off for my first field work in Australia since returning from Scotland, the first thing that struck me was how much nicer it is without wearing a raincoat! For Mike, the biggest shock (apart from the lack of humidity compared to Brisbane) was that the ocean was to the west.

Living close to the water was a huge drawcard when I started the Western Australia office, and I’m not the only one – there is an ever-growing number of communities lining the west coast. Our first stop took us all the way down to Bunbury where we were able to try out some of our field tools. After first debating the size of sand grains on Back Beach, Mike, never leaving home without his American dime, took a SandSnap to settle the tie break (he won) and also became the first WA contributor to this fantastic collaborative project. Tools like SandSnap are great for quick analysis, which uses a deep learning neural network (~ AI) to calculate a full particle size distribution. This information then helps us model sand movement caused by the tides and waves, and allows us to predict how the coast will change under extreme events. SandSnap is actually run as aa collaborative citizen-science project that is building a world-wide database of beach sand grain sizes, so for anyone wanting to learn more, look here:

We ventured around Back Beach and Bunbury Port looking at all the coastal protection structures comparing and contrasting between the UK and Queensland. There is plenty of areas where we want to setup either a wave model or an XBeach model (using our new sand data) to help understand exactly what’s happening….which I will share next week”.
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