Citizen science can create valuable long-term datasets, case study from a Queensland coastal volunteer program

Mr Daryl Metters1

1Department Of Environment And Science, Brisbane, Australia


Citizen science has become a popular way to collect data and information, and to engage the wider public in scientific research. Community engagement in citizen science is a cost-effective way to collect data over long temporal and spatial scales and brings positive effects for participants including improved scientific literacy and citizen empowerment. The Coastal Observation Program Engineering (COPE) data collection system was designed to collect data at sites along the Queensland coast to assist in the understanding of coastal processes and the way these processes affect the coastline. The COPE project was operational from 1971 to 1996 and enlisted volunteers to record information on a regular basis at their local beach at over 100 beaches. The program was coordinated by the then Beach Protection Authority (BPA) who collated, analysed and reported on the data. The data provides a snapshot of coast processes such as the erosion and accretion of sandy beaches and a snapshot of wind, wave and current parameters over the same period. The data parameters included: beach profiles, sand samples, berm width, wind, wave, and current information. The COPE data has become an invaluable baseline for studies into beach erosion and mitigation activities such as beach replenishment and sea defences.


Daryl Metters is a Senior Scientist in the Queensland Government Hydraulics Laboratory within the Queensland Government Department of Environment and Science. Daryl has a BSc (Hons) in Marine Science from Flinders University. Daryl has worked in the National Tidal Centre, Australian Bureau of Meteorology as a Tidal analyst, and as Manager Spatial Information (Tidal services) in Maritime Safety Queensland. Daryl is currently working on wave and storm-tide monitoring data. His work includes monitoring sea levels in Australia and the South Pacific region, data management and operational aspects of tide gauge and wave monitoring networks in Queensland.