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Measuring Historical Coastal Change using GIS and the Change Polygon Approach


Robert G. Cromley, Department of Geography, University of Connecticut, 215 Glenbrook Road, U-148, Storrs, CT 06269-4148, USA. E-mail:


This study compares two automated approaches, the transect-from-baseline technique and a new change polygon method, for quantifying historical coastal change over time. The study shows that the transect-from-baseline technique is complicated by choice of a proper baseline as well as generating transects that intersect with each other rather than with the nearest shoreline. The change polygon method captures the full spatial difference between the positions of the two shorelines and average coastal change is the defined as the ratio of the net area divided by the shoreline length. Although then change polygon method is sensitive to the definition and measurement of shoreline length, the results are more invariant to parameter changes than the transect-from-baseline method, suggesting that the change polygon technique may be a more robust coastal change method.