Surf zone processes

Cam-Era coastal network

NIWA coordinates a network of remote video cameras, called Cam-Era, which regularly monitors coastal and river behaviour in real-time. Initial funding from the Ministry of the Environment helped demonstrate the potential of remote video cameras for monitoring medium- (over days) to long-scale change (over months) on sandy and muddy coastlines. NIWA has installed the core components of a network of computer-controlled video cameras around New Zealand.

This programme complements NIWA’s coastal research by giving us another tool for monitoring exchange of sand between the shoreface and sand bars off the beach where the waves first break. By averaging a series of single images (such as the first picture) taken at around 1 second intervals, breaking wave patterns show where the surf-zone bars are located (second picture). These images were taken by one of our east coast cameras at Tairua Beach, a classic enclosed bay system perfect for unpicking all the elements of a sediment system that ultimately affect the stability of the adjacent shoreline and foredune. The network has a mix of sites on both east and west coasts, funded cooperatively with regional and territorial authorities or port companies. The network also includes two cameras on the Waimakariri River to study complex braided channel development in gravel rivers.

Single snapshot in time (Tairua Beach)

Averaged stack of images showing main wave-breaking zones and break-point bars (Tairua Beach).