Maritime Forum

Maritime Forum Themes


Coastal Mapping in the EU - now and in the future

Event date:
10/09/2013 - 11:00 to 17:00
Table of Contents


    The aim of the meeting is to get an overview of ongoing national and European activities on coastal mapping and to see how we can move forward

    Rue Joseph II, 99 fifth floor



    DG ENV


    Gómez Prieto

    European Environment Agency















    Progress of EMODnet

    DG-MARE informed the meeting that the second phase of EMODnet was now underway and that planning on a third phase was now beginning. An impact assessment will be followed by a roadmap in the first half of 2013. Results from the first phase of EMDnet are feeding into the assessment of costs and benefits. For instance an estimation has been made of the area already covered by bathymetric surveys in a selection of Europe's sea-basin. Costs can be saved by using data from previous surveys instead of undertaking new ones and by reducing the cost of finding, accessing and processing these existing data.

    Preliminary results for these savings were presented. They do not yet include the work of hydrographic agencies. SHOM said they would find out how much the French Hydrographic Agency spends on surveying and charting.

    The purpose of the meeting is to find out how to integrate coastal mapping into the third phase of EMODnet


    EMODnet hydography

    The EMODnet hydrography consortium is testing approaches towards merging topography data from different sources and creating facilities for viewing and downloading. Three pilot areas have been chosen: The Apulian Adriatic coast oin Italy, the south and west of Britanny in France and Bantry and Dunmanus in Ireland.


    Coastal mapping in the south of England

    The British Geological Survey has been working on coastal mapping for monitoring cliff instability and coastal retreat. The surveying data was provided by the Regional Coastal Group for central southern England and the focus has been on providing a seamless interface between terrestrial and marine surveys. Geological maps at 1: 1000 have extended fault-lines have been extended outwards from land to sea and one metre resolution bathymetry is available in some areas.


    Coastal mapping in Ireland

    The Irish Infomar marine mapping team consists of about ten staff from the Geological Survey of Ireland and another ten from the Marine Institute in Galway. Whilst they do not yet consider geological data, their experience and knowledge of near-coast topography mapping in Europe is unrivalled. Their experience has shown that:

    1. monitoring from vessels is slow and expensive but is sometimes the only alternative. The large variation of temperature and salinity in bay areas makes calibration of the echo-sounders complicated.
    2. marine LIDAR works where the water is not too vegetated or turbid which, for Irealnd, is probably about a quarter of the coastline. The only aircraft that can do this is Australian and surveys need to be planned well in advance. Asking the contractor to aim for maximum depth can be expensive as it requires several repeat runs. Probably 5 metres is a safer bet.
    3. where the tidal variation in water depth is large and the shallow area extensive, mapping the coast with terrestrial LIDAR when the tide is out can be effective. This has been done for Dublin Bay
    4. some tests of satellite mapping have been undertaken but the accuracy obtained is not, so far, accurate enough.


    French hydrographic office (SHOM)

    SHOM suggested building on experience in projects in Baltic, North Sea, French and Irish Atlantic coasts, French, Maltese and Italian Mediterranean coasts and French islands in the Caribbean and Indian Ocean to develop a European programme for coastal mapping. Cost-savings could be achieved through joint procurement of aircraft time.


    Coastline map of Europe

    The European Environment Agency is leading efforts to maintain and distribute a mapping of European coastlines at approximately 1:100,000 scale. It is based on the EU-hydro mapping of European water bodies and is derived from satellite imagery. Where this is unavailable, Corine land cover data is used. All the EU coastline is covered although work is ongoing to reduce errors. Coasts such as Southern Sweden with small islands and jagged coastlines present particular challenges.


    Next Step

    Whilst mappinb the topgraphy of coasts presents considerable challenges, much progress has been made in the past ten years. Initiatives to reduce the cost of future work  could include sharing of equipment and dissemination of experience and good practice.