ESA-GSI: Coastal Erosion from Space


The coastal environment is constantly changing. Climate change, storm surges, rapid sea level rise and floods impact the coastline. Earth observation from space has made a significant step up since 2016 with the appearance of the EU Copernicus Sentinel missions (ESA), and the new generation of very high resolution commercial satellite platforms. More frequent revisits (3 days) and improved image quality have made possible it to monitor coastal change from space to an unprecedented scale. One of the challenges is developing high quality products to address societal challenges such as coastal erosion.


Project Description

The Coastal Erosion Project is a project within the Science for Society challenge of the 5th Earth Observation Envelope Programme (EOEP-5) run by the ESA.

The scope of the ESA Coastal Erosion project is the development & demonstration of innovative Earth Observation (EO) products founding the basis for long-term exploitation of earth observation from satellites by large user communities. These applications aim to detect and track coastal erosion and accretion to inform coastal management plans.

The team will do this by analysing 25 years of ESA archive data to quantify historical coastal change. Also by using contemporary synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data from Sentinel-1 and optical data from Sentinel-2 and developing their own methodologies to address these challenges.

Project Timeline

​The project is subdivided in two phases (2019-2021):

  • The first phase:  9-month feasibility phase will be centred on user requirements, detailed technical specification for EO products and selected case studies
  • The second phase: 15-month definition phase consisting of demonstrating and validating products in the pilot areas of interest

Project Outputs

This project will develop, from EO datasets and for selected pilot areas, an intertidal extent model, will monitor near shore sediment change, and quantify backshore to foreshore volumetric change to enhance understanding of coastal erosion processes and validate models.

This ESA collaboration will also provide an insight into the relative susceptibility of the Irish coast to adverse impacts of sea-level rise.

Further reading from a paper co-authored by Geological Survey Ireland regarding ESA project application is available HERE


​The ESA funded Coastal Erosion team is a global consortium and a collaboration between several countries (Ireland Spain, UK, Canada and France) of which GSI is a consortium member and end-user.

The consortium includes five organisations representing the user communities of four different countries.

Consortium members:

  • IHCantabria (Spain)
  • Geological Survey Ireland (Ireland)
  • isardSAT (Spain)
  • adwäisEO (Luxembourg)
  • Arctus (Canada)
  • IGN-FI (France)


For further information please contact:

Xavier Monteys


Marine and Coastal Unit

Geological Survey Ireland